You’ve almost certainly come across the concept before. The earth is dying ✓ The last of humanity has left in one final desperate bid for survival ✓ There’s no one else left on Earth but the protagonist ✓ A mysterious stranger shows up and an tense relationship is formed ✓ That’s not to say it’s not interesting, but it’s certainly not original. You’ll recognize elements from the likes of I Am Legend, Passengers, and Orbiter 9. The most striking similarity is with Z for Zachariah, the dystopian ‘dead planet love triangle’ movie with Margot Robbie (straight faced pretty go-getter) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (dark-skinned sincere beard-wearer) – both roles you’ll instantly recognize. In fact, it’s so similar that for about 10 minutes I thought I’d already seen Io.
Problematically, it’s not as entertaining as any of those movies. And Z for Zacahariah isn’t even a good film. Io presents a lone scientist (Sam) working in a tiny habitable corner of the Earth, valiantly seeking a way to keep humanity alive without abandoning the planet. Not too long later, a hot air balloon shows up, containing a solo traveler (Micah) that is hoping to meet Sam’s father, a brilliant scientist who is nowhere to be seen.
Sadly, what starts off as intriguing soon becomes boring, and the pacing is glacially slow at times. Any initial tension the film generates gradually ebbs away as you realize you’re waiting for a payoff that never arrives.
Perhaps most damning of all, Io has bugger all to do with actual the actual moon Io. Why humanity doesn’t head to the more human friendly moon of Europa is besides the point, but even though this is a well-financed Netflix-backed film, it is sorely lacking in ambition on the whole. If the general concept sounds interesting to you, watch Z for Zachariah or something else in the genre instead. If it doesn’t, I’d still well clear if I were you.