We went to the moon in 1969—or did we? That’s the premise of Antoine Bardou-Jacquet’s new film Moonwalkers (in theaters and VOD, January 15th).
Starring Rupert Grint and Ron Perlman, the premise of the movie is based off the conspiracy theory that we maybe never actually made that “small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” For years, conspiracy theorists have alleged that the American moon landings were faked. Various reasons for this include the lack of stars in the photos, the flag blowing in the wind that isn’t supposed to be up there, and the lack of a blast crater beneath the lunar module America sent up there. Those have all been debunked, but entertaining conspiracy theories is a ridiculously delightful form of pleasure and Moonwalkers thrives off that.
Rupert Grint plays Jonny, a down-and-out music manager, with a lot of debts to pay, who is mistaken by Ron Perlman’s character, Kidman, for his successful agent brother and winds up stealing a ton of money meant for Stanley Kubrick. (Jonny’s brother is meant to represent the famed director.) Kidman, a Vietnam veteran, was asked by the American government to convince Kubrick to stage a moon landing if the Apollo mission were to fail. (Apparently, conspiracy theorists actually saw Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and believed he was behind the real-life footage.) Jonny lies and says his stoner buddy is Kubrick, and subsequently digs himself into an ever deeper hole. (The aforementioned debts are owed to a pretty violent group of folks.) So, he and Kidman have to follow through with the mission or else the government will murder them all. What follows is a surprisingly bloody, albeit entertaining hour and a half.
Grint, who told us over the phone that there were many scenes of ad-libbing, gives one of his best performances. Though the script is all over the place, he shines in his role. “I’ve always been attracted to the underdog,” he told us. “It’s not an intentional decision to seek these roles, but they just sort of happen.”
Seeing Moonwalkers recreate the landing is pretty fascinating. Grint agreed, saying how “crazy it was to see how easily we staged it.” It certainly paints a convincing case for the visuals of the conspiracy theory—which Grint said is a thing he doesn’t believe, though does read up on.
Moonwalkers itself is a bit chaotic, but as an adrenaline rush, it’s fantastic. The violence is a healthy mix of Tarantino and Kubrick influences, and the darkness of its comedy is rich. It’s also so refreshing to see Grint shine outside of the franchise that made him famous. The sick grandeur of Moonwalkers is meant to be seen in theaters, so grab your ticket, a hefty sized bag of popcorn, sit back, and brace yourself. Once the first shot is fired, you’re in it until the final, sickeningly humorous climax.