I started watching Netflix’s sci-fi mystery/thriller The Silent Sea about a week ago, And for someone that is in the habit of finishing off an eight-to-ten episode Netflix series in a day or two, it was a reminder of how spoiled I have gotten by the majority of recent productions from the current plethora of sources that are intentionally meant to be fast-paced-easy-to-digest and sensationally entertaining affairs as their guiding principle. This production, on the other hand, is paced more like reading a book or short story and a reminder that sometimes it’s worth taking longer to tell an excellent, more complex, multilayered story and giving the viewer more time to really appreciate it for a worthwhile narrative without all the flash. This series is a whole different animal and is more a cerebral style of sci-fi. Although many might not consider this to be a thriller, it does have its share of thrilling moments.
Set in the dystopian near future, when the planet suffers from a lack of water and food caused by desertification, Han Yun-Jae (Gong Yoo) is a soldier for the space agency. He is selected for a team, including Song Ji-an (Bae Doona), to travel to the moon. Their mission is to retrieve a mysterious sample from an abandoned research station. This is a tragedy with themes involving water including hydrophobia and drowning.
Like I said previously, this is a slow-paced production and that slow pacing reminded me of another classic sci-fi movie, namely Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), and like that ill-fated crew, the mission team depicted here is just going about routine business until they suddenly aren’t anymore and are faced with a situation they do not fully grasp and are not prepared for. And like that film, there is a single female protagonist, in this case, a scientist, that begins to more fully understand the situation and what they are dealing with. I do not want to mislead you, there are no alien monsters involved in the plot here. There are, figuratively speaking, monsters involved in the plot but not what you might expect.
This is an ensemble production, and while setting the stage for what follows, in the tradition of stories of this sort, The Silent Sea begins introducing its characters. these are more like sketches of characters without going into too much detail. It’s an assortment of types as you might find in any number of classic war films from not that long ago. Although most of the names are unfamiliar to western audiences, in South Korea, this is considered an all-star cast, and everyone does an excellent job.
Not familiar with this title? The Silent Sea is a 2021 South Korean sci-fi mystery thriller streaming television series starring Bae Doona, Gong Yoo, and Lee Joon. The series is an adaptation of the 2014 short film The Sea of Tranquility written and directed by Choi Hang-yong who also directed the series It premiered on Netflix on December 24, 2021.
I should say I watched an English dubbed version of this series which did make it easier to digest. The slow pacing of this series nearly deterred me from watching it completely, but I am glad I did. IMO this is a worthwhile story. You will have to decide for yourself if it’s worth it to you, but once I am hooked, I can hardly resist a mystery, and this is a good one.