It has been three years since Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) last saw his wife (Dominque McElligott) and daughter. Working hard inside a space station planted on the moon, Sam is in desperate need of human interaction. Besides the non-responsive plants he takes care of, the only other thing Sam has to talk to is the main computer intelligence system known as Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey). Sam only has two weeks left on his contract before he can finally get back to normal life on earth. Unfortunately disaster strikes when Sam gets into an accident on the surface of the moon while on a routine mission. When Sam wakes up back at the Lunar Industries station where he works, he is eager to find out what caused the accident. Against Gerty's wishes he ventures back out to the accident site. Sam makes a startling discovery that will have him to questioning what the three years in space has done to his sanity.
Although the trailers already give far too much away about the film, I will try to avoid providing any further spoilers. I will say that director Duncan Jones crafts a film that surprisingly achieves a lot through the use of restraint. Unlike Richard Kelly’s The Box, Moon is a cerebral science fiction film that is more concerned with keeping up psychological suspense than it is with having "cool" moments. It is the type of film that methodically unpeels its layers while avoiding many of the trappings of modern science fiction films.
The success of Moon is partially due to the performance of Sam Rockwell. Rockwell is required to fill two pairs of shoes in the film and does a great job of keeping them both unique. By providing both characters with distinct personalities and characteristics it allows the audience to identify with them on several levels. Sam Rockwell’s stellar performance also helps to enhance the eerie feel of the first half of the film. Neither Sam Bell nor the audience is quite sure what to believe in the beginning. Is Sam going crazy? Are there sinister forces at play?
While I did find Moon to be one of the more enjoyable science fiction films I have seen in recent years, I must admit that the second half lagged a bit for me. As questions are answered and plans are set in place I found myself losing interest in how the final moments would play out. I think I just came to terms with everything well before Jones was ready to let the audience go. The unsettling first half and the reluctant bonding moments are what really keep this film going. The whole countdown to the outsiders was just not as compelling as the director tried to make it. Regardless of my qualms with the second half, Moon is still satisfactory film that is both entertaining and at times thought provoking.