Let me start this review with a helpful hint: Watch “Spacewalker” with the language set to “Russian” and have the English subtitles. I know, no one really wants to “read” while watching a movie, but the voices in English of the folks who dubbed the movie were so far off from what you probably imagine the characters sound like, that, well, it can almost ruin a wonderful film.
Yes, “Spacewalker” is a wonderful film.
Let’s get to the movie.
So, here we are, in the 1960’s and it’s the full-blown, “United States v. USSR,” space race. There’s a win for one country here, a win for the other there, and the next step, other than the ultimate destination, the moon, is to have someone “walk” in space. The United States had their timetable to get a man out of the capsule and hang around in the emptiness of space, but the USSR needed the win. What to do? Accelerate their timeline.
Enter Alexey (Evgeniy Mironov) and Pavel (Konstatin Khabenskly), with some help from Sergey (Vladimir Ilin). How? Well, the USSR has been working on a spaceship with the capability for a spacewalk, but things are moving slow, and quite frankly, they need someone who loves danger combined with someone with a steady hand, to pilot the thing. Alexey is the daredevil and Pavel is the steady hand, and although their personalities compete at times, they also become the perfect cosmonauts for the job.
As is the standard case with movies detailing anything space in the 60’s, there is peril at every turn, safety corners get cut in the name of getting the rocket in the air, and there is always something that goes wrong where the crew might die. “Spacewalker” is no different. Yup, even though you know things will get hairy, and you will fear for the lives of the cosmonauts, rest assured movie folks aren’t really making these films where the heroes die.
So, yes, there is the backstory of Alexey growing up and our learning how he became fearless, we cheer on the aging Pavel, and feel for Sergey in that horrible position of wanting to please his boss, Leonid Brezhnev (Valeriy Grishko), while maintaining the safety of the crew.
It’s the perfect, “based on a true story” story, albeit not as “Hollywood” looking as you might want. Nope, “Spacewalker” may not have the special effects you might expect, but it doesn’t need them, the story has the suspense it needs to have you cheering on the cosmonauts, even if they are on the other “team.”
Now, back to my first comment.
For years I have complained in my head whenever I had to “read” while watching a movie, meaning it’s a foreign film, without an English dubbing, so I had to read subtitles.
I’ll never complain again because “Spacewalker” has some of the worst dubbing of actors I have heard. Simply put, when you think USSR and cosmonaut, especially for the bosses, and even looking at the actors, you think, “rough and gruff” voices.” Let’s just way that the English voices dubbed into this movie were nothing “rough and gruff,” and they really started to ruin the movie. To confirm I wasn’t wrong I rewatched the beginning of the movie with the original voices of the actors, in Russian, with subtitles, and the voices fit the men and women so much better. Lesson learned, and my advisory for you, again, to like the movie a lot better, read the subtitles and listen to the actual actors.
So, ignoring my mistake of listening to the dubbed voices, “Spacewalker” is really a wonderful movie. It did a great job showing the danger the cosmonauts faced, the odd friendship of two different personalities, and nicely showed the backstory of Alexey and how he became fearless. You get upset at the government folks who don’t really seem to care about the people, you get nervous even though you are fairly certain the outcome will make you feel good, and in the end “Spacewalker” does a great job of sending you back to a time when pride came in accomplishments and not in conquering.
It’s 4 stars out of 5 for “Spacewalker.”
That’s it for this one! L8R!!