“The Apollo Murders” is a brilliantly imagined and superbly crafted alternate history Cold War thriller where Apollo 18 — cancelled in reality because of budgetary cuts — launched into space in 1973.
The crew’s initial mission objective is to collect lunar geological samples and sabotage a Russian moon rover. But things escalate quickly, and their task becomes more complicated and spectacular: destroy a Soviet spy satellite which, despite intelligence reports, isn’t the easy, unmanned target they expected.
NASA crew liaison Kaz Zemeckis anchors this sprawling narrative (packed with an ensemble cast) which flits merrily between various American and Russian perspectives a’la classic Tom Clancy. Like the late master of the geopolitical thriller, former astronaut Chris Hadfield enjoys expounding technical details and getting into the minutiae of how the mechanics of space travel works. But rather than be monotonous, these specifics actually add flavour and texture; Hadifled is able to derive suspension from the smallest of engineering failings.
“The Apollo Murders” blends fact and fiction into something delicious. I had such a blast with it. Sure, there are some conventional beats, and the climax feels ripped from a Michael Bay blockbuster — but that’s kind of the point. It’s swashbuckling entertainment.