There is a long standing debate that there was an attempt to fake the moon landing and it came from the highest levels of the American government. Most notably, it was the CIA that was responsible to see that if anything went wrong with the actual Moon landing, they would have footage to prove otherwise; fake or not. Of course, this is something that the American government would NEVER admit to and I have my own doubts, too. I am not one taken with conspiracies, but that is another discussion for another time.
Moonwalkers (not to be confused with Michael Jackson) is about such a scenario. The CIA hires an emotional and mentally unstable Vietnam Vet named Kidman (played with ferociously violent energy by Ron Pearlman). With a suitcase full of cash and a week to make the deal happen, he is charged with hiring Stanley Kubrick to make a quick film depicting the American astronauts taking their first steps on the Moon, just in case, the real astronauts and their real mission end in disaster. A case of mistaken identity sets up a wild film that is clever, witty, darkly humorous and one whose tone is all over the map. It has some problems, but overall, Moonwalkers really entertained me, despite some uneven elements.
Ron Pearlman’s Kidman, is a man possessed. His character still sees all of his dead victims from the war, he has unbelievable and uncontrollable shakes and a very short fuse. Pearlman is engrossing to watch as he cuts through each scene with a watchable morbid elegance. He is always just short of exploding. Rupert Grint in his post Harry Potter career, is terrific as Jonny. He is a low level con-man who is short on money, owes more than he can pay to the local mob and tries to make it as rock promoter. Since none of that seems to work, he ends up working with Kidman and the two of them have some real chemistry. I also enjoyed Jonny’s drugged out friend, Leon (Robert Sheehan). He is a worthless lump but means well and Sheehan seems to be having a ball as does Tom Audenaert as Renatus the director that is charged with making the fake footage. They all seem to be having ball and it shows. They are what carry this film.
There is some explicit violence in Moonwalkers that seems out of place when compared to some of the lighter humor elements. I mean, really explicit violence. I did not mind its graphic brutality but it did not sit well with the rather playful tone of the rest of the film and there are more than a couple of these types of scenes. There is also a love interest who is introduced in the second act of the film for Kidman and the film never really delves into that element much at all. Her name in the film is Ella and she is played with quiet seductiveness by Erika Sainte. They set it up well, but go nowhere with it and that was disappointing. There seemed to be some added depth that Moonwalkers could have benefited from this plot and these actors.
Still, there is enough energy and interest generated by the actors and the script by Dean Craig is actually pretty darn funny. First time director Antoine Bardou-Jacquet keeps the pacing up to snuff and makes an impressive directorial debut. When I say his “directorial debut”, I mean it. He has directed one…….ONE….short film. That’s right…ONE. He impressed me with Moonwalkers. It is not perfect but I was interested in what went on and cared about its characters. I was interested seeing how the film tied up its plot. It was a bumpy ride but ultimately, Moonwalkers is trippy film, happy to be delightfully jocular and seems to be best when not taken too seriously. Watch for a really great turn by Rupert Grint and Ron Pearlman, too.
Moonwalkers- *** out of 5
Moonwalkers- Rated R for explicit violence, nudity and harsh language
Moonwalkers- Run Time is 100 minutes
Moonwalkers is now available on DVD and On Demand