This film is a beautifully told story in which the protagonist is in search of truth and solutions to a global crisis. It delivers action, emotion and tension in outer space in bucket loads to whet the appetite of sci fi enthusiasts.
In addition, it is set in the near future where space travel is normalised and common for both professionals and the public.
The special effects and visuals in the movie are spectacular and transport us into outer space. We are given a sense of the loneliness of space through wide shots and angles of the vast vacuum. The film is set up through sustained and interesting dialogue and builds up into an entertaining, fast-paced space adventure.
Brad Pitt brilliantly portrays astronaut Roy McBride and gives us an insight into his struggles, motivations and obligations. I believe his performance is award worthy due to its sheer depth and journey into the mind of his character. Tommy Lee Jones also plays a major role in the story as Clifford McBride and gives a five star performance as the troubled father of Roy. His character is said to have been missing for thirty years at the films beginning.
Overview – SPOILERS AHEAD
Ad Astra is the story of talented astronaut Roy R. McBride (Brad Pitt). He is detrimentally dedicated to his profession which costs him his relationship with his former partner. McBride follows his greatly celebrated father’s footsteps and is struck by the ultimate mission – saving Earth from volatile power surges from an unknown source near Neptune.
Pitt is briefed on the mission. It is a continuation of project Lima – the mission his father was on before he broke contact with his crew and was presumed dead. However, McBride is told that his father is still alive, a motive that drives him to find him.
Thusly, McBride leaves Earth and is on course for the Moon. On the way there, there is a Mayday, and the captain is obligated to help. Pitt and a fellow astronaut investigate the ship in question and attempt to contact the ship captain to no avail. Thusly, tension builds as they enter a chamber, where an astronaut is pushed towards the far side near a window. McBride attempts to talk to him, but no response is given, and when he turns the astronaut around his face is mauled and bloody. An ape-like beast sharply emerges from behind the astronaut and McBride is chased. He manages to drag the astronaut and close the chamber door in dramatic fashion. He attempts to patch the helmet of the victim but he realises that he has died. The crew return aboard their ship and arrive at the moon.
They leave for Mars where McBride is hindered from carrying on his mission. He was given a scripted message to send towards his fathers presumed location. We see that the controlling body McBride serves under uses this to find his father, dropping him at its expense. Roy is left determined to carry on when he is informed by another astronaut of his fathers true actions. He is shown, through a video stream, that his father murdered the parents of this fellow astronaut who wished return home. Jones’ character did this because he wanted to continue his journey to find intelligent life.
Following this revelation, Roy infiltrates the rocket where the new team is assembled. Through a series of unfortunate events the crew members are killed and Roy ends up reluctantly commandeering the ship. He heads further into space towards Neptune. During this journey montages of his life are shown, evoking sadness and empathy.
Ultimately, we see Pitt’s character reach Neptune where another ship is positioned, his fathers. Roy enters the ship and meets his father but their reunion is cut short when Clifford reveals that he did not love his family as he was solely focused on his mission. It is revealed that he was the cause of the power surges emanating from his ship. Jones’s character then leaves the ship and is cut off by his son in yet a dramatic and poignant scene.
Roy then sets a timer to detonate the ship. As he leaves and returns to his own ship, it explodes. Pitt uses the blast as a takeoff mechanism and journeys back to earth which is over two billion miles away. His mission is complete and he can live happily and without its grave stress.
I would rate this film 8.5/10