Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia
Jon Spaihts script chooses stupidity over intelligence at nearly every corridor. That’s too bad since Passengers, directed by Oscar nominee Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) has an intriguing premise. Continuing audience’s fascination with all things space related, Passengers has difficulty deciding whether it’s a thriller, love story or comedy. It starts off as a one-man isolation show, unfortunately Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Magnificent Seven) isn’t the all access actor to keep us interested by himself. It then becomes a two person show when Oscar winner Lawrence (Joy, The Hunger Games) wakes up. The special effects inside the ship mirror a futuristic cruise ship and as much as the movie wants to be an intimate tale of two people lost in space, there are just too many shiny distractions.
Jim Preston (Pratt) is a mechanic who left Earth on a ship named Avalon, bound for Homestead II, the second inhabitable planet owned by a cooperation. One of 5,000 passengers hoping to start a new life on a new planet, Preston wakes up from his hibernation pod 90 years too early. He is the only soul awake on the ship, and for over a year he eats, thinks, and tries to open the sealed crew doors to no avail. His desperation even leads him to near suicide, until he noticed Aurora Lane (Lawrence). His decision to open her pod for company, is an essential death sentence for the blond writer from New York. Their relationship runs the spectrum until they must work together to fix a broken ship that might never arrive at its destination.
Wants to be an intimate tale of two people lost in space, there are just too many shiny distractions.
If you took the romance element out of Passengers, it would instantly become more interesting; see Gravity, Interstellar, and Arrival for examples that prove my point. So much of the screen time is wasted on the loving and fighting, because Hollywood thinks we want to see two franchise stars in a relationship. The more interesting questions never get addressed. In this story, if someone chooses to leave Earth at age 30, they will never see their family again. They won’t even arrive at the destination until after their loved ones have long since passed away. This chilling concept is barely mentioned, instead more screen time is given to trivial matters that play for laughs instead of a deeper meaning. Passengers wants to be a carnival ride more than a moving experience.
There is so much to explore on this futuristic spaceship, yet over and over we see the characters in familiar settings like the pool, an arcade, and most frequently the bar, to reinforce the cruise ship atmosphere. Both Lawrence and Pratt are cast for star power, not their relatability. Perhaps it’s not their fault, because most of the problems lie in the writing. Passengers is more interested in meeting producers idea of what they think audiences want to see, rather reaching for material that might emotionally effect the viewer. The ending is a real head scratcher, it just wraps things up like someone shouted, “time’s up”, bringing this ride to an abrupt halt before you got to see all the stuff you thought you paid for. It’s pretty easy to be captivated with the bells and whistles of the movie until the danger light goes off and it’s all down-hill from there.
Wastes such an interesting premise on movie clichés and Hollywood tropes.