Following the conspiracy theory of the 1969 U.S. moon landing being filmed, Moonwalkers follows a CIA agent’s attempt to locate Stanley Kubrick. After being tricked by a low-ranking manger, the two have to team up and somehow film the production.
An intriguing set-up surely, yet Moonwalkers never is able to find its footing. While it brings a great deal of energy and promise to the table, the film ultimately succumbs to its own bombastic tendencies.
At the center is a surprisingly winning tandem, however. Ron Pearlman is perfectly casted as Agent Kidman, with his huge stature and constant snarling matching the character’s violent tendencies like a glove. Ruppert Grint has not gotten many opportunities since his days at Hogwarts, yet is effective as the clumsy Jonny. Grint brings the same buffoonish energy we’ve seen before, but it’s a niche that he executes nicely. Both Pearlman and Grint make a surprisingly satisfying odd couple, creating some of the film’s few laughs.
Set in the era of rampant drug use and free love, first time director Antoine Bardou-Jacquet throws the kitchen sink trying to create a sense of style. Clearly inspired by the likes of Guy Ritchie, Bardou-Jacquet keeps the action moving at a rapid pace. He creates a real sense of swagger, capturing the absurdest aspects of the era and the situation itself.
Similar to Ritchie however, Bardou-Jacquet’s chase for creating a signature style gets in the way of his film. Veering between silly raunchy bits and loud action setpieces, the tone-deaf execution lacks focus. Aesthetic choices such as Kidman’s PTSD flashbacks from war are thrown in without any rhyme or reason. It’s a busy effort, but lacking a deftness to make all the elements come together.
Moonwalkers is certainly not helped much by its script. Known for the adequate Death at a Funereal (and its terrible remake), scribe Dean Craig has a penchant for trying to create absurdist humor. These attempts fall flat here, with a shameful focus on gross-out jokes that never work. Craig’s setup is intriguing, yet ultimately marred by clunky delivery and a heaping of plot holes. The film ultimately settles with a forced action-packed third act conclusion, which ends up feeling more stomach-turning than amusing.
Moonwalkers makes an earnest attempt at creating a cheeky good time, with both the director and writer seemingly being on the same page. The duo however, create a busy, overtly juvenile affair that will only appeal to some. Most who are interested in the film’s concept will ultimately be disappointed by the execution.