Moon with Sam Rockwell shows us a world where the energy needs of the human race have been met by the implementation of cold fusion on a global scale. That should pretty much do it - no more war, hunger, drought, ignorance or want. Yeah, not so fast, and Sam Rockwell serves as the focal point – ad infinitum - in this not so distantly futuristic 2009 film by Duncan Jones.
The key resource needed to mass produce this self-sufficient energy system is helium-3, and the Moon provides the primary source. The lynchpin of the operation is a sole astronaut on a three stint acting as a high tech maintenance man on the Moon.
Carrying all the weight of the school janitor walking the abandoned halls on second shift, while never going home, “Sam Bell” is nearing both the end of his term and his breaking point. All that stands in his way is GERTY the talking computer, prerecorded messages from his wife and time passed tending to his plants and finely carved model city of wood.
That leaves you wondering what kind of man signs up for such a mission. Well, Dave Bowman and Frank Poole did in 2001 and the layout the film dispenses is meant to evoke a parallel. The same goes for the soothing monotone of GERTY, played by Kevin Spacey, and the feeling of impending doom.
But 2001 feels justified in a pursuit of a cause greater than the human race. Still, families have always separated for the chance to secure their futures, and one has to believe the sacrifice will be well worth it upon re-entry.
The financial resource to provide is present in abundance for Lunar Industries, so the question is, why not man the station with more than one person for sheer humanity’s stake. Not so fast, as I said earlier.
On a routine run with his rover, Sam is distracted by a flashback, crashes the vehicle and is left unconscious on the desolate surface of the moon. The scene going black, he somehow awakens in sickbay – overseen by the calming coercion of GERTY.
We soon realize that Rockwell is not alone, and the presence is carbon based not binary coded. This might seem to speak well of the omnipotent energy company, but “his” appearance perplexes your viewership. Was GERTY able to remotely maneuver the rover back in and is Sam’s depleted state resulting in a hallucination that takes human form.
But slowly the truth emerges, and we understand why we must hesitate. Even as science has again put humanity on the brink of a new world, man and greed brings us back down to Earth.
The mystery eradicated, the full horror unfolds when Sam is finally able to make direct contact with his family. The lengths a company will go to maximize returns for shareholders, it almost makes Walmart seem human as they pay sustenance wages to union-less employees and stockpile factory workers in firetraps across the world.
As much as the Mobile Oil and Koch Industries want to stifle such realities with all their financial might and heartwarming TV ads, Lunar Industries does not hesitate in employing a kind face to placate Sam, while readying to use their muscle to clean up the mess. “You’ve done a great job now just sit tight until the rescue team arrives,” the corporate liaison transmits on Rockwell’s deaf ears.
Escaping to Earth as the corporation’s goons touchdown, the glaring truth Sam brings back home is met with an even more powerful force. The media megaphone that drowns out any dissent that threatens their corporate backers and the profits going with it.
A story as old as the man in the Moon that won’t soon be changing - no matter the heights that our humanity takes us.