“This is like one of those good lies—like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.” This statement, uttered halfway through the above trailer, appears to sum up the ideology behind the characters in Operation Avalanche. The film provides a what-if alternate history suggesting the conspiracy theory that the original moon landing was faked really occurred. (Not that anyone alive today would still believe in such nonsense.) In the trailer, a few enterprising young men learn that Stanley Kubrick is using NASA to evaluate the accuracy of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and decide turnabout is fair play, using his film to create their own phony lunar landing. As you might expect, this kind of world-altering conspiracy is a high-risk venture, and it soon becomes clear the plan won’t go smoothly.
The ad copy for the film, however, makes it sound a little different: Apparently, these gentlemen are really CIA agents, tasked with uncovering a Russian mole. But while posing as documentary filmmakers in their mission, they uncover government information that leads to the fateful decision to create this film. So add another layer of spy intrigue on top of the “faking a moon landing” element, and you’ve got a film that looks like catnip to large swaths of people: Space buffs, thriller aficionados, found-footage fans, alternate history geeks, and anyone interested in a clever premise and strong reviews. Operation Avalanche opens September 16, and not, weirdly, this week—the anniversary of the actual Apollo 11 mission’s walk on the moon.