A science fiction film set in the “near future” that kicks off with an unexpected bravura sequence set in the upper atmosphere, as a space telescope/station is affected by an electronic pulse.
Pulse being appropriate, as our hero “Roy McBride” (Brad Pitt) is famed for keeping his under control, even when falling from near space to earth. McBride is the son of the world’s most famous astronaut H Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), sent to the outer reaches of the solar system looking for intelligent life, obviously finding none on earth.
McBride junior is apparently chosen for the mission to locate the source of the cosmic event, due to his familial connection to the deep space “Lima Project”.
Several voice overs later, sketching his own relationship issues with his partner “Eve” (Liv Tyler) and his ability to compartmentalize situations see pulse rate above, McBride is moon bound. He is flying “commercial”, clearly branded as a Virgin flight with in flight purchases possible. The moon is already commercialized, indicating Earth’s problems and conflicts have merely moved off world, cynical but most likely.
Up to this point, about one hour into the film, the acting, effects and story are well done, taking sly digs at our current state of the world, whilst showing the realities of possible space travel.
However, once McBride traverses the moon to his Mars connection, whilst fighting off “space pirates”, the plot and film starts to unravel.
Improbabilities stack up on absurdities, until at one point McBride appears to be rocketing through Neptune’s rings towards a distant spaceship only protected by a broken piece of metal….
This is a $80 million dollar film about reconciling with your father (Tommy Lee Jones) which is all very laudable but represents a very expensive therapy session for director James Gray and screen writer Ethan Gross.
Pitt confirms yet again he can act, with various scenes focusing on his face during quiet periods, of which there are many. Jones gets to act “Apocalypse Now” type crazy and Tyler is criminally underused, putting a set of keys on the table her most animated scene.
Donald Sutherland gets some early decent scenes albeit largely extraneous to the plot and then promptly disappears. Ruth Negga shows some real movie star swagger but again has little to do and quickly exits stage left.
The film performed poorly at box office and it is easy to see why. Films can be slow, introspective, profound and contain a strong message, but this movie falls far short of that lofty aim. The second half of the film effectively destroying any credibility built up during the first half.
A curious cross between Interstellar and the aforementioned “Apocalypse Now” yet hitting neither target.
Initially promising but descending into a disappointing parody, four stars for the first half and two for the second, settling on three overall.