At a high altitude, Redmayne and Jones explore the Heavens.
Every once in a while, the best action movies aren’t promoted on M&Ms or billboards or Toyota ads. Instead, artisan studios like Amazon Studios show us their adventurous side, and that same studio just released “The Aeronauts,” which doesn’t have an electrifying story, but delivers on its breathtaking visuals, dangerous situations, and performances.
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunite from “The Theory of Everything” as meteorologist/scientist/astronomer James Glaisher and pilot Amelia Wren, who are both on a mission to travel the world in a gas balloon. They both intend to give the crowd the show of a lifetime, by breaking the record of traveling toward the Heavens.
Now keep in mind: this story, inspired by true events, is set in the 1860s. Presented in flashbacks, James has been ridiculed for his weather predictions, while Amelia struggles to overcome her tragic past when she lost her husband (Vincent Perez). But aside from their downsides, James asks Amelia to fly his balloon to prove his theories. She has helped him built the craft, but she refuses to ride in it, because that’s how her husband died.
In the current state, there’s beauty up in the skies, as they find a swarm of butterflies, clouds, and even the stars. However, there are also challenges the adventurers get into like thunderstorms, extremely cold temperatures, and altitude sickness. Remember: the higher you are the colder you get, and the less oxygen.
The scene that made my palms and feet sweaty is when the ballon is too frozen to let the air loose from the basket. So, Amelia, being that she’s a daredevil, must climb to the very top to poke a hole in it. I don’t want to spoil the whole scene to you, but I can tell you this: I haven’t been this nervous since I saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit walk between the Twin Towers in Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk.” Both these biographies know what great height and great fears are all about.
The story, written by Jack Throne and director Tom Harper (who also made this year’s “Wild Rose”), isn’t all that compelling when we acknowledge the main characters’ troubles and drama. It’s probably the way they present them; they just don’t sparkle the way they should. But Redmayne and Jones act their emotions and persistence with such dignity that you begin to care about their mission of traveling sky high. Matter of fact, they both deliver the goods, and I don’t think Harper couldn’t have cast anyone better than them in these particular roles.
Again, “The Aeronauts” proves a theory that sometimes the best action movies are given artisan releases, instead of Universal Pictures or Disney distributing them. It takes risks, dazzles us, and motivates us in that very notion.
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Now Playing in Select Theaters.
Available on Amazon Prime December 20.