Passengers has interesting sci-fi elements but opts to be a forgettable blockbuster instead of committing to its premise, resulting into an ill-conceived space romcom.
Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) and Jim (Chris Pratt) are two passengers onboard a spaceship transporting them to a new life on another planet. The trip takes a deadly turn when their hibernation pods mysteriously wake them 90 years before they reach their destination. As Aurora and Jim try to unravel the mystery behind the malfunction, they begin to fall for each other, unable to deny their intense attraction… only to be threatened by the imminent collapse of the ship and the discovery of the truth behind why they woke up.
Passengers has all the ingredients of a blockbuster hit – a big budget, two stars, and a timely genre.
Unfortunately that’s all wasted in a poorly executed movie.
In fairness to its stars, they are committed to their roles and do their best to sell Passengers. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are both charming and reliable. The setting looks chintzy, but the set design is convincing enough to present a space ship that resembles a luxury cruise.
When we get to the second act and the mystery hinted in the trailers is revealed, the twist turns out to be a plot device that reveals the love story of a creep.
That sounds as worse as it looks on screen as the movie glosses over and distracts the audience from its troubling rape-y premise. It paints Jim as a sympathetic character, uses Micheal Sheen as his endearing side kick and conjures Laurence Fishburne to play the token black dude and set-up his contrived redemption. By the third act, Passengers has turned into Titanic in space.
While the visuals and action scenes are well rendered they’re nothing new from what you have seen before from other sci-fi thrillers. There’s one cool scene here that uses gravity, but the movie opts to use tried and tested ideas. Additionally, without any chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence (even in their interviews) the movie just turns into an ill-conceived space rom com that condones dubious consent and forced marriage. It even ends with a platitude saying that you should make the best of what you have, even if you were robbed of consent and autonomy.
There are people who actually agree with the movie and while these are the kind you might be better off not meeting in real life, this posits ethical dilemmas worth pondering about. How long are you going to last in isolation? what are you willing to do to keep your sanity? Should we succumb to human nature no matter how cruel it can be to another person given a hopeless circumstance? This produces potential elements that the plot can use along with its decent production design – social isolation and obsession – that could have elevated its story as a compelling thriller.
Unfortunately the producers only saw two bankable actors, delivering a generic love story with an icky premise marketed as a sci-fi adventure flick.
My Rating: 3/10