This existential masterpiece is destined to become a classic.
"Ad Astra" is a film that should come with the warning, "Brace for impact." Emotionally and visually, it hits hard.
Brad Pitt gets penitent as astronaut Roy McBride, who is sent on a top-secret mission to possibly find his presumably deceased father. Twenty-nine years earlier, astronaut Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) set off for Neptune seeking intelligent life. The space agency now believes that Clifford could actually be alive and hiding, but it also fears that he might have caused a massive, catastrophic, worldwide power surge. But could it, in fact, be a search-and-destroy mission for Roy? Even worse, a one-way trip?
Director and co-Writer James Gray ("The Lost City of Z") manages to keep your eyes glued to the screen throughout the entirety of this existential masterpiece destined to become a classic. His choice to have Roy conversing with himself during most of film works surprisingly well. The insight into his character's demons is crucial to the essence of how this mission will play out. If Roy finds his father, will he find himself or ultimately be destroyed? Is it a case of "like father, like son"?
Pitt balances the intricacies of Roy's conflicts flawlessly. The steely perfection of an astronaut is outwardly evident, but the nagging internal shortcomings of a man never cease to haunt him. Although he's riddled with fear, he never allows it to surface. It's a brilliant performance. The supporting cast is top notch as well, even though they have very little screen time. It includes Donald Sutherland, Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga and flesh-eating baboons.
"Ad Astra" is not a kiddie space flick. But it is a pensive, gorgeous piece of filmmaking. One that might challenge intelligent individuals to reassess some fundamental beliefs.