“You can’t get so hung up on where you’d rather be that you forget to make the most of where you are.”
Passengers was expected to take Gravity (2013) and make it into something Hollywood has never seen before. Thus, I walked into the theater with pretty high expectations. Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as two of 5,000 passengers on an intergalactic voyage to an extraterrestrial colony, it seems the director couldn’t decide whether the film should be romance, science fiction, or adventure, which makes sections of the movie drastically different.
We’re on the Avalon — whose aesthetically pleasing, double-helix design, by the way, is probably one of the best features of this movie — a spaceship carrying people to a colony called Homestead II in a new galaxy. The starship’s passengers are meant to be in a type of hibernation for 120 years before waking up as they reach their destination. However, Jim Preston, an engineer played by Pratt, and Aurora Lane, an adventurous author and journalist played by Lawrence, are awoken early— but only one by accident. The first part of the film focuses on a solitary Jim, stranded on the ship for around a year — although he does get to talk to a robot named Arthur played by Michael Sheen. Several scenes in this sequence drew noticeable chuckles from the audience I was watching with, brought out through Jim’s character and actions, and the movie seemed to be off to a strong start.
After a significant amount of time all alone and many fruitless attempts to find a way go back into hibernation, Jim debates with himself — and Arthur — as to whether or not to arouse Aurora, who he had been rather creepily watching for a while, from her hibernation. Of course, he eventually does, and a shot of guilt hits him immediately. For a while, Jim keeps the fact that he woke up Aurora secret, and the two begin to fall in love. Throughout this sequence, Pratt and Lawrence show their chemistry and pure acting prowess. On the other hand, there are a few too many romantic sequences in a very short period of time to the point that the film became repetitive and seemed to veer slightly off topic.
However, Aurora eventually finds out and is understandably enraged, accusing Jim of murder. Shortly afterwards the ship’s tendency to suffer small malfunctions violently exacerbates. Consequently, the action involved in scenes escalates extremely quickly, involving a few life-or-death situations and a randomly introduced character played by Laurence Fishburne, a captain of the ship named Gus Manusco who is also mysteriously awoken and presumably added to somehow amend the tensions between the two main characters. Without giving any spoilers, I can say that nothing that happened was especially surprising or unexpected, although its final sequences did make up for the lack of “drama” in the first few parts of the movie.
Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) kicks off the film as a high-powered sci-fi with loads of promise, but fails to really deliver after that. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence show why they are two of the hottest stars in Hollywood despite a weak script.
The best components of Passengers are the futuristic designs of the ship’s interior and exterior and the casting of Pratt and Lawrence, who display pretty good chemistry. And, the setting that stands out from other sci-fi movies was supposed to make the film a one-of-a-kind blockbuster.
Unfortunately, the film failed to truly reach the potential that its storyline had. It has several plot holes and unclear aspects, such as the vague background of Jim Preston, although Lawrence’s character’s past is explored with lots of detail. Nonetheless, Passengers definitely has its moments, as at times, we can’t help but sympathize and feel as if we are right there on the Avalon with Jim and Aurora. I recommend taking a chance on this film if you’re a fan of Pratt and/or Lawrence, science fiction, or simply want to see a decent film.