Ad Astra

Existential intimacy

Brad Pitt, on a roll, plays seasoned astronaut Roy McBride, who travels to Mars in an attempt to send a message to a mission launched to Neptune three decades ago and now the probable source of mysterious energy bursts that threaten all life on Earth. It’s personal, you see, because the doomed mission was led by Roy’s father (Tommy Lee Jones), a legendary space explorer long presumed dead.

This is not your average space romp. While it’s closer to Interstellar than Star Wars, it nevertheless evokes and acknowledges its space opera forbears, not to mention a nod to “Heart of Darkness.” It will be too slow for some. Though it generates some wonderful suspense in occasionally improbable action sequences, its purpose is more meditative, even going so far as to question whether Earth deserves saving. Is this Pitt’s best ever? Better than Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood? Apples and oranges. It is, however, his most haunting and personal role to date. 

The lack of a final resolution is maddeningly frustrating. And in the end it was for me a film easier to admire than to recommend.

Sept 20 (123 min)