Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Written by: Jon Spaihts
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 1 hr. 56 min
On this trip to the movies I was joined by my friend, Rosaline, who had not heard much about Passengers, and had not seen the trailer.
I’ll start with what Passengers does right. First, the production design is fantastic. The ship, the tech, and costumes were beautifully designed and well thought-out. Each component in this production looks futuristic, yet seems familiar compared to present day technology. The chemistry between Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt is also decent, especially during the moments where their character’s romance is blossoming, and during the lighter comedic moments in the story. Michael Sheen, as the android bartender is also a lot of fun.
The story too, at least for the first two acts, is interesting, if a little underexplored. Posing a ‘what would you do?’ question while not really getting into the nitty gritty that follows. The situation explored here is compared to a drowning man – ‘The drowning man will always try to take someone down with him.” Passengers, however, is more like ‘you can only take three things with you on a desert island.’ But with the rules tweaked so that our hero, Jim (Chris Pratt) can have unlimited supplies, a bartender, plenty of booze, entertainment, and your pick of over 2000+ comatose women to be Prince Charming for.
He was lonely, sure, and that’s worth exploring, but drowning? Hardly.
Heading into the last act, Passengers completely falls apart so badly it almost becomes a parody of itself. Lazily opting for a crisis complete with ‘the reactor is going to blow’ moments and big levers that will fix everything as long as one of our heroes is willing to die for the cause. The dialog during the finale’s action is laughable, and the pacing awkward.
Deep within this narrative, is an interesting story about isolation, betrayal and forgiveness. For me, a more interesting take on this premise would explore the key points in the character’s lives as they work, live and perhaps have children. Perhaps they wake up more passengers, and explore their journey to the new world over several generations. I realize that might not lead to a big ‘kaboom’ finale, but if you’re going to release a film that poses a question, why not explore the answers thoroughly?
The trailer does not sell this film well. There is plenty of action, but a great deal of this film explores the character’s loneliness and blossoming romance.
Systems all around the ship start failing, and the artificial gravity is briefly lost while Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Aurora, is taking a swim. The resulting action as the pool water starts to float about was really nicely put together.