Review refers to the 153 minute edition (“missing” 40 minutes) and about half of the uncut version.
Epic drama about the one-man-crew phase of the Space Race, on the critical side of bombastic patriotism.
A couple of years after WW2, engineers and short-lived test pilots are close to breaking the sound barrier or, as they say, beating a lethal “demon” dwelling at Mach 1. Chuck Yeager, ace of the war and a humble married badass, steps up. Years later, the Soviets are way ahead in the Cold War propaganda effort to launch cans into orbit. If the US is to catch up, there has to be a man in their can, although a monkey could do the job. Seven pilots undergo a series of humiliating trials to become Mercury program “astronauts” and press darlings. Yeager is too difficult to manage, and never went to college. Forgotten, he watches the media circus on TV. Off screen, the astronauts and their cheated housewives struggle to assert their integrity and value in the grip of the machine.
Lots of silly comic relief (particularly LBJ), though it’s hard to dislike the duo of Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer! The uncut edition seems to humanize Yeager further, which is almost a shame. I read two biographies of the man because of this movie.