Ad Astra


By Joanna Langfield

While this stellar space odyssey delivers the cool, what gives it fuel is its heat. There’s a lot of both and still, at times, not enough of either.

Brad Pitt, in perhaps his most introspective performance, stars as an almost monolithic astronaut, in a time not too far into the future. As he notes in his required psychological check-ins, Roy is good. He is about the job and no emotional entanglements interfere with his getting that job done. Or do they? Soon, after being assigned to an intergalactic mission that involves his long lost heroic dad, we all begin to wonder just how “good” the abandoned son, following in his father’s legendary footsteps, really is.

The visuals James Gray brings to the screen are appropriately as well as technically awe inspiring. They are, indeed, very cool. And so is Roy, our hero, a strong silent old Westerns type, except this time the steed he mounts is a bazillion dollar spacecraft and his range, an intergalactic space station. Bad guys, as well as good guys, come and go. Roy flicks them off with barely a flicker. After all, he is cool. He gets the job done. Yet something seems to register when an underused Donald Sutherland shows up, introducing not just the assignment but also the impact of Roy’s ultra secret, save-the-world mission. We all go through a lot of sloggy, if well shot space fights, as well as a few don’t blink or you’ll miss ‘em cameos, until we finally get to the heat and heart of the matter: the showdown between father and son. Anyone with their own daddy issues will be thrilled to see the subject addressed in such a big screen, sci-fi thriller way, as we all should be. I just wish we hadn’t lost momentum with those obligatory, but temperate blips on the road to get there.