'A Million Miles Away' Movie Review: Michael Peña Has Got The Right Stuff

michael pena million miles away prime video movie review

Michael Peña once again proves he’s one of the best actors working in Hollywood. The actor's range has no limits from playing a goofball in the ANT-MAN movies to serious roles such as his latest film, A MILLION MILES AWAY. Based on the true story of Mexican-American astronaut José Hernández, the former child migrant farm worker was rejected by NASA 11 times. The Prime Video movie is a feel-good and inspirational story.

Directed by Alejandra Márquez Abella, the film follows Jose from his time as a child migrant worker dreaming of one day going up into space and his struggles as an adult in achieving that goal as he raises a family of six. Jose never gives up his dream even after 11 rejection letters from NASA.

A MILLION MILES AWAY stars Pena as Jose, Rosa Salazar as his supportive wife, Veronica Falcon (Queen of the South), Garrett Hillahunt (Deadwood, Fear the Walking Dead) and Julio Cesar Cedillo (Narcos).

Director Marquez Abella handles the subject matter beautifully without commentary. She presents an objective picture. The filmmaker shows the life of the migrant family from sun up to sundown. A young Jose and his brother awaken at sunrise to work the fields with their parents and then they head to school, often sleeping at their desk from exhaustion. At no point do the characters complain about their line of work. Jose’s teacher recognizes Jose’s talents and encourages his parents to give up the nomad life and settle down to give their son a fighting chance at a better life.

The movie jumps to Jose’s college graduation after earning an engineering degree. The courtship of his wife (Salazar) slows down the story a bit but Salazar isn’t just the supportive woman. She brings an energy lacking from Peña’s Jose. Jose is a mild-mannered and low-key personality in comparison to the vibrant Salazar. It’s a good balance.

The film progresses through 11 years presented by the birth of his six children. The three Acts are clearly defined. The third act focuses on Jose's NASA training as he overcomes new challenges while also sacrificing his family life. Marquez Abella represents the family life very honestly with Adela becoming overwhelmed as the sole provider but the character never becomes a nag but suffers silently as most women do.

The ending will have you grinning from ear to ear with an inspiring and happy ending as you see Jose accomplish his dream of going to space as part of the Mission STS-128 crew. The film also gives credit to the person responsible for setting Jose on the right trajectory - his teacher.  

Watch for a cameo by the real Jose Hernandez towards the end.

A MILLION MILES AWAY is perfect family entertainment, especially for Latinos who rarely see themselves portrayed positively on screen.

A MILLION MILES AWAY is now streaming on Prime Video.

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