By Gilberto Campa
The ever expanding darkness of space can be experienced in many different ways based on how we feel. Being an astronaut is a profession that is truly one of a kind as they get to see parts of the world that the average person couldn’t even imagine. For Major Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) who is the best at what he does in the United States Space Force, it is much more personal than just another mission to deep space with the fate of the universe at stake. This is the premise for Ad Astra, the 8th movie from director/writer James Gray.
The story takes place in the not so distant future where space travel has become commercialized and certain locations have grown to greater heights. The International Space Station for instance has become the International Space TOWER that reaches up into the upper atmosphere. This is where the opening sequence of the movie takes place which shows you (in a very exciting and thrilling way) how much of a badass Major McBride is. After some other global events that bring panic and danger to other parts of the world, NASA decides to give Major McBride a mission to stop this deep space disturbance.
This may sound similar to some other space movies that have come out before, but the movie feels very original. It hankers back to the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey in terms of its sensibility and its pacing while keeping a similar tone throughout. Despite everything that is going on as the beautiful cinematography keeps you completely focused, there are more underlying tones presented. At its core Ad Astra is examining the complex relationship between Major McBride (Brad Pitt) and his father Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) who has been believed to be dead all this time, or so we are made to believe.
Throughout the whole movie Roy is constantly taking mental evaluations after certain event’s transpire that act as a way of calming him down to continue pushing forward to complete the mission. His life before the events of the movie has always been about the next mission and nothing else, this has pushed him to become very cold and distant with things in his personal life much like his father was. Pitt does an excellent job at showing coldness and self struggle in is physical acting, especially in scenes where it is just him and no one else.
This personal struggle within himself builds and builds until the physical and mental battle cross paths as the entire universe is at stake. Culminating in a finale that will leave you torn yet satisfied depending on how you feel about the characters, which is really what makes the movie. Overall the film knows what it is trying to say story wise while the anchor that is Brad Pitt carries you through that experience. And in the end the destination is worth the journey.