Plot: A team of top scientists work feverishly in a secret state-of-the-art laboratory to discover what has killed the citizens of a small town and learn how this deadly contagion can be stopped – The Andromeda Strain.
Director: Robert Wise
Released: March 1971
Adapted from the work of Michael Crichton, the screenwriter behind Jurassic Park, Westworld and Twister, The Andromeda Strain is a rare example of pure, hard science fiction, which by that I mean a film that is less about action and adventures, but more about the ideas and concepts, think more like Interstellar or Ad Astra, than Timecop or Dune.
Starting off which a heart-stopping opening sequence, which provokes the audience into using their imagination to figure out what happened to the villagers and the recovery team, ramping up the tension and injecting a sense of worry/dread in your mind what you could happen if the scientists fail
From this point, the tension doesn’t dissipate, helped by keeping the cast concise resolving around a small team of brilliant scientists in a secret underground lab studying a space artefact, attempting to get a better understanding of it and prevent it from destroying all human life on Earth.
The main problem from this point is that the film goes for realism throughout, getting very science-heavy, filled with back and forth theological discussions between different characters and keep the action to a minimum, that is until you get to the last 10 minutes in which we are treated to literal race against time prevent a nuclear explosion which would feel more at home in a more conventional science fiction or superhero films such as The Avengers or Mortal Engines.
It’s not a perfect movie to be sure and most definitely a slow burn, while the finale with its countdown race feels a little out of place. But despite these minor flaws, The Andromeda Strain remains one of the most satisfyingly paranoid yet realistic science fiction films of its time and delivers a wonderful bleak and tension-filled experience to the viewer. Just make sure to pay attention.