‘AWAY’ ★★★

10-episode se­ries pre­miers Fri­day on Net­flix.

Chicago Sun-Times - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

and loyal Ram (Ray Pan­thaki), an Air Force fighter pi­lot from In­dia.

Gee, I won­der if this di­verse group from dif­fer­ent corners of the planet will butt heads from time to time but even­tu­ally re­al­ize they have to trust each other if they’re go­ing to sur­vive this ex­tremely dan­ger­ous and con­tro­ver­sial mis­sion while the whole world is watch­ing?

“Away” sling­shots back and forth from the im­pres­sively ren­dered scenes aboard the At­las, with the as­tro­nauts float­ing about, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively, to life on Earth (which seems to be in present day). The al­ways steady Josh Charles plays Emma’s hus­band, Matt, a sci­en­tist who’s over­see­ing the day-to-day me­chan­ics of the mis­sion un­til he suf­fers a near-fa­tal stroke, and Talitha Bate­man does a fine job car­ry­ing an emo­tion­ally heavy load as teenage daugh­ter Alexis, who’s about the great­est kid ever as she copes with hav­ing a par­a­lyzed dad and a mom who is on her way to Mars and won’t be home from three years, if ever.

Hi­lary Swank de­liv­ers a solid, grim-faced per­for­mance as Emma, who some­times looks like she’s clench­ing her teeth just to keep from cry­ing about the sit­u­a­tion back home or ex­plod­ing at one of the crew mem­bers who has just messed up. We be­lieve in Emma, just as the ini­tially skep­ti­cal crew comes to be­lieve in her. The sup­port­ing cast is uni­formly ex­cel­lent, with the stand­outs be­ing Ivanir as Misha, whose back story is sur­pris­ingly touch­ing, and Es­san­doh’s Kwesi, who has a lot go­ing on be­hind that sunny ex­te­rior. Like the At­las it­self, “Away” is a beau­ti­ful ma­chine that stalls and sput­ters from time to time but builds mo­men­tum as it reaches for the heav­ens.

Cmdr. Emma Green (Hi­lary Swank) is over­see­ing Earth’s first trip to Mars in “Away.” NET­FLIX

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