Basically: It’s not a bad movie, but damn- that trailer is misleading.
Summary: The son of a famous space explorer is tasked with finding his father.
Here’s the trailer if for some reason you missed it. Watch that. Doesn’t it read like a space-political thriller? Like, “Oh boy, your dad was a corrupt astronaut plotting against the US of A! Go find him!” Moon chases!
If anything Ad Astra is more of a… space-noir. Noir in Space! It’s very much a drama piece (“An ACTOR’S piece that HAPPENS to be set in SPACE,” presumptuous Hollywood people would say)… Which is fine and all, just… not what I was mentally prepared for, and thus, I was a little disappointed throughout a lot of it. Honestly, mood shot straight low earlier than halfway through this thing once I figured out the trailer was a lie.
The story goes like this- Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is a great astronaut who followed in his father’s footsteps. He’s got some daddy issues due to his father (Tommy Lee Jones) leaving him behind to pursue looking for signs of life among the stars. When it’s reported his father might be alive, Roy is compelled to find him.
Let me be clear, this is not a terrible movie. Technically, it’s great, specifically with the visuals and the sound. And that paragraph just above, I was totally into it when it was happening. But the story is not as strong as it could be in really putting the flaws of the father/son relationship first and foremost. It’s almost as if… the writers didn’t know how to better communicate aspects of the relationship so they filled time with checkboxes. Even Pitt’s thoughts on his father happen as he has to report his heartrate and health metrics. “Oh, we’re going to talk about your dad. We better take your pulse.” There are a lot of events that happen for the sake of happening (random people showing up with no consequence, oh and space monkeys!?) that have nothing to do with anything- nothing with Roy’s trusting of his crew, no bits of information that come through. It happens to happen.
We get about four of these events that don’t really serve the themes on central storyline of the movie and I think this time could have been better focused on delving a little bit deeper into Roy’s complicated relationship with his wife (a woefully underutilized Liv Tyler), his view of his father, etc. On top of that, Roy is just… boring. He has no memorable traits and not enough development. Quiet characters are hard to pull off, but Pitt just doesn’t bring enough nuance for Roy to feel like a real and relatable character.