Red Planet is a lot better than its counterpart, Mission to Mars, since it doesn't delve into some new-age theory of human origin to sustain a level of suspense and action.
In the year 2025, Earth is on the verge of collapse, thanks to human abuse. Colonising Mars is the way to save the human species. Before that can be done, Mars has to be provided with a breathable atmosphere for humans. To do this, the planet is bombarded with algae spores that will grow and convert the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to oxygen. It's a nice idea in theory.
Even though everything seems to work out fine initially, the algae starts to disappear. A team of scientists, along with their robotic pet navigator, is sent out to investigate. As the space ship is about to send a landing party to the surface, they experience a solar storm and have to make an emergency landing while their captain Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss) stays behind.
What happens next is a series of incidents that takes away the life of each of the crew members until only one is left standing. The first to go is Chantilas (Terrance Stamp) who has turned to philosophy since science can't explain everything (the irony here is that all the events in the movie are explained by science). Soon the astronauts start running out of oxygen, but as they are about to suffocate, they take off their helmets and find that the air is breathable!
They decide to investigate, but have to deal with various conditions, deadlines, and the robot pet which is malfunctioning and is out to kill them. As they slowly die, they also uncover the secret of the missing algae and the oxygen atmosphere.
The acting by the two leads, Val Kilmer and Carrie Anne Moss, is adequate. It's low key, but that's what makes the whole story work. Red Planet is definitely a good time killer (I saw it on the plane). I recommend checking it out.