Direction: James Gray
Ad Astra means ‘to the stars’ and that’s exactly where Brad Pitt, in the role of Major Roy McBride, is sent to save humanity and the Solar System from catastrophic power surges and search for his long gone father, Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones), a pioneer astronaut that vanished mysteriously in a delicate mission occurred 16 years before.
The highly classified mission to Mars and then Neptune might be narrated in a monotonous cadence, but there are attacks of raging monkeys in addition to ambushes and battles on the lunar soil that briefly make us disregard the Malick-ian slow-motions and resplendent effects.
Roy deals with anger, frustration, and apprehension in a tale that felt limited for the possibilities showed. By the halfway, this intergalactic journey starts to feel like a mere exercise, with the film never exceeding expectations.
Directed and co-written by James Gray (The Lost City of Z; Two Lovers; The Immigrant), the film is an introspective tale of intergalactic loneliness and yearning, whose pragmatic approach brought some ambivalence in regard to its possible success. Moreover, and partly due to the nature of the plots, Pitt shines much less here than in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Far from mind-blowing in its hidden secrecies, Ad Astra is only modestly engaging, benefitting from the finely crafted visuals - great cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar and Dunkirk) - but failing to achieve dramatic grandeur.