Bella (Ruby Rose) has always had a troubled life. At a young age, she suffered a tragedy in which she almost drowned, leaving her with an intense fear of water. As a teenager, Bella led a life of wild parties, getting into trouble with the law. Now an adult, Bella receives a phone call from a stranger named Ed Messer (Frank Grillo), who reveals that her father has sadly passed away. Ed was a close friend of Bella’s father, and he claims that he always heard incredible things about Bella. It’s been twenty years since Bella had even spoken to her father, but it turns out he left her something- a large, luxurious yacht named “The Bella”.
Upon seeing the yacht, Bella has no interest in keeping it, preferring to sell it and obtain the cash. However, some small talk from Ed convinces Bella to keep it, especially given that that’s what her father would have wanted. She decides to celebrate and remember her father by having a late night with several drinks at a bar. She even meets a charming man there, Michael (Patrick Schwarzenegger), and the two return to the yacht. However, what begins as a fun one-night stand soon becomes something disastrous. Three armed men have broken into the boat and fully control it while she and Michael are still onboard. Now, Bella must use her wits and past experiences to try and survive and escape from the mysterious intruders.
Stowaway is best described as a thriller with brief moments of action. You will be disappointed if you are expecting something like Die Hard or Under Siege. I was surprised to find little on-screen action here, and the action sequences that are present are short and filmed with quick, snappy edits. The prime focus of the story is the mystery of why the men have broken into Bella’s Yacht and who’s in charge of the operation.
While the film presents a mystery, there’s nothing unpredictable about Stowaway. All aspects, including the reveal of the ultimate villain, are apparent early on. As a character, Bella has moments where viewers will support her and other moments that seem silly and painful. She’s not a pushover and stands up for herself during any conflict with a baddie, which is welcome. However, while sneaking around and attempting to escape or fight, Bella isn’t always the wisest character. Bella enjoys sneaking around but also can’t help talking loudly to herself while various bad guys are wandering around. In another scene, she gets trapped in a small cavity for a long duration before eventually remembering that she’s carrying a large knife. Audiences will suggest a solution to her problem long before she figures it out for herself, making some situations painful and slow to watch.
If you are a massive fan of some of the supporting cast, including Frank Grillo and Patrick Schwarzenegger, you’ll also be disappointed as both actors have limited screen time. For the most part, lines of dialogue from all the characters are more miss than hits, and some deliveries feel corny or forced. The three Coast Guards that also make an appearance are easily the worst-written characters and could be more useful, given the plot and situation. Among all the characters and actors, Frank Grillo brings the most assertive and likeable presence on-screen, but again, he feels misused given his lack of on-screen presence.
Overall, you will be disappointed if you’re expecting a film on the same level as Die Hard or Under Siege. Stowaway focuses more on being a thriller than high-octane action. Anything relating to thrills, though, is evident and predictable to the viewer. The characters here are highly corny, and their dialogue feels forced and unnatural throughout. While having some moments of strength, Bella is not written to be the smartest during a break-and-enter situation. The most favourable aspect of Stowaway is actor Frank Grillo, but sadly, he is underused with little screen presence even when he fully commits to the side role.