James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) is a scientist in the burgeoning field of meteorology, in fact he’s trying to coin the term. In order to prove his theories Glaisher enlists the services of Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) to take him up in her balloon, higher than anyone has ever been.
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are reunited in another scientific tale, after their Oscar-winning turn in The Theory of Everything. The Aeronauts sees Eddie Redmayne as real-life scientist James Glaisher and alongside Felicity Jones’ Amelia Wren, who is an amalgamation of several real-life figures, imbued with some dramatic flourishes here and there.
The story is a simple one, Glashier wants to prove his theory that weather is indeed predictable and is a science in of itself. The way to do that is to get as high as possible, higher than anyone has ever ascended in a balloon before, so he can collect the data he so desperately needs.
The Aeronauts feels like an old-fashioned tale of people versus nature as we follow the rise of the balloon and the fall of our heroes physical and mental state. It evokes things like The Perfect Storm and Twister in a man against the elements type drama. Where the film really excels is in the chemistry between the two leads. Redmayne and Jones have a proven track record and it really shows here. At times the characters themselves are quite thinly sketched, particular Amelia Wren, but there’s more than enough to like to lift this above the clouds and into the light.
The film is essentially just two people in a hot air balloon basket for the duration so in order to try and bulk out the characters and their stories the film opts for Lost-esque flashbacks. These are ok at filling in some of the cracks but the film is really at its best when we are in the thick of the action with Jones and Redmayne. In fact anything where the two share the screen is sufficiently compelling, whereas things feel a little lacklustre when they don’t.
The Aeronauts is fun and exhilarating with some genuinely exciting set pieces and engaging leads. There’s a lot to enjoy and while it may struggle to adequately flesh out the leads, their chemistry more than makes up for it.