After a team of scientists and explorers, led by commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain), are hit by an unexpectedly large storm on the surface of Mars, they must stage an emergency evacuation. Yet on the way to the module, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by a communication antenna and left behind presumed dead. He then quickly has to figure out a way to survive for multiple years for a rescue mission in a habitat designed to last for 30 days and “science the shit out of” his terrifying dilemma.
There’s an old philosophical thought experiment about five passengers riding an out-of-control tram on a rail line approaching a cliff next to a track-switch with a second line with a sleeping man laying on it. Should you pull the lever and save the five even if it means killing the one? What is the ethical price of a human life? The Martian is an extended meditation on that very question, with a whole harmony of other themes of solitude, determination and survival.