In the not-too-distant future humanity has begun to explore the solar system. With outposts on the Moon and Mars, astronauts with the Lima Project travel on to Jupiter, Saturn, and ultimately Neptune where they are never heard from again.
The leader of the Lima Project is the renowned scientist and adventurer Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones). When the film opens we are introduced to Clifford’s son Roy McBride (Brad Pitt). Roy has long been told that his father and the rest of the Lima Project crew are dead. However, after a series of devastating energy pulses hit the earth from space, Roy is told by the military that his father is believed to still be alive and is believed to be causing the disturbance. At the military’s urging, Roy travels into space determined to connect with his long lost father and stop a potential calamity.
Ad Astra is very much of a cerebral and atmospheric science fiction movie, more akin to 2001 than to a something like Star Trek or Star Wars. There is no space opera to be had here, no exotic and exciting extraterrestrial encounters. This film is in some respects more about the sensory experience than it necessarily is about the story. The journey that unfolds throughout the course of the film is very much of an inner one, even as the protagonist travels to the furthest reaches of the solar system. Large portions of camera time are spent examining the pores on Brad Pitt’s face, questioning the isolation and sense of loneliness and duty hiding behind his character’s eyes. At the same time the camera work, sound, and visual effects are truly breathtaking. The depictions of zero gravity space travel are convincing to the point of making you forget you are watching a simulation.
In the end Ad Astra is an understated journey punctuated by moments of sharp conflict and tension. If looked at critically there are holes one can poke in the plot. However the plot is actually somewhat secondary in a movie like this, a movie that is more about the experience of the inner journey than about any external outcome. Ultimately this is a tale that looks to put its audience into a place of contemplation, looking in awe at the vastness of space and reminding us that, in the end, we are all that we have.
Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.
Cast: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler and Donald Sutherland
Directed by: James Gray
Written by: James Gray & Ethan Gross
In the end Ad Astra is an understated journey punctuated by moments of sharp conflict and tension. If looked at critically there are holes one can poke in the plot. However the plot is actually somewhat secondary in a movie like this, a movie that is more about the experience of the inner journey than about any external outcome.