Ad Astra is a space thriller set in the not too distant future where Pitt, an accomplished astronaut by the name of Major Roy McBride, must travel to the edge of our solar system in search for his estranged father and the source of mysterious electrical surges that have the potential to be devastating to humanity. In a time ubiquitous of space thrillers such as Interstellar, the Martian and Gravity, Ad Astra manages to stand out on its own amongst the crowd.
Visuals and Story
Ad Astra has everything you would expect from a space epic in 2019, the stunning visuals from the special effects and cinematography (that will no doubt score some Oscar nods), to some of the most nail-biting action scenes you’ll see this year. But at its core, it’s a character driven drama about father son relationships and that is what it should be remembered for. It’s a deep dive into the inner psyche of the character of McBride, quite literally as he is forced to do constant psychological analysis tests, as he is torn between what is right for him and the greater good.
Speaking of Oscar nods, Pitt’s performance is unsurprisingly excellent which means he could be up for two nominations this year. He effectively portrays the development of McBride from cold astronaut (whose heartbeat per minute never goes beyond 80) to a man confronting his inner demons. However, this reliance on character is perhaps where Ad Astra stumbles as the viewer is subjected to constant monologues by the protagonist which continue throughout the runtime. One could argue the story could be better told through introducing other interesting characters rather than a sole focus on Pitt’s character.
Bold Predictions For The Future
One of the most interesting things about the film is its almost dystopian capitalist predictions of the near future. From the commercial flights to the moon, countries fighting over territory and resources in space, to the presence of fast food restaurants like Subway in the moon port. Again, dystopian but at the same time believably realistic. After all Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is a real thing that is happening right now.
Worth The Watch?
Overall, Ad Astra is one of the best films of the year. It will leave you at the edge of your seat for the entire time which is a great achievement for a 2 hours-plus thriller. Be prepared to be constantly enthralled by the obstacles thrown in the way of the protagonist and the story will keep you guessing to the very end. If you can get past the heavy-handed monologues and the fact that is about character more so than the epic infinity of space, it’s definitely worth a watch it. For sheer tension, not many thrillers come close this year.