Mission to Mars
Time Out says2020: a manned mission to Mars has run into unexplained trouble on the red planet and a rescue team has the risky task of going in after them. With three of his colleagues dead and no radio contact, Cheadle draws the short straw. He has to hole up on the Martian surface, grow a beard and wait. The cavalry are coming, however, and they're the best that NASA's got, including ace helmsman Sinise and wise commander Robbins. All they have to do is align themselves to the correct orbit, but a dangerous fuel leak may be about to jeopardise their plans. De Palma's best stuff is in the middle of the movie, where he gets to grips with the nuts and bolts of the precarious rescue attempt and constructs a couple of flawless suspense sequences. The deliberate approach is most refreshing, but nothing else in the movie matches up to it - not the draggy set-up and certainly not the dismally unimaginative final half-hour, when we uncover the age old secrets of Mars. Given the glaring mismatch between the able performers, comic strip dialogue and monumental Morricone score, the whole thing reeks of a perversity unusual among today's machine tooled blockbusters, but that's hardly an unqualified recommendation.