An enjoyable enough affair with charismatic leads that decides to shoot for blockbuster thrills over philosophical chills.
Passengers managed to bag two of the biggest and most likeable Hollywood actors of the current generation in the forms of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, so from the very beginning there were high expectations for this film.
We’re introduced to the starship Avalon, an interplanetary vessel that’s transporting over 5000 passengers to Homestead II; a new settlement for humanity. The journey will take a hundred years therefore all crew and passengers are in cryogenic sleep as the Avalon traverses space.
That is until there’s a fault in the ships systems and Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is woken from his hibernation ninety years too soon. He’s alone, he’s the only one who was woken and there’s no way for him to go back to sleep. In desperate search for answers he finds that all crew are asleep behind an impenetrable door that he does not have authorisation to access. Quickly he releases there’s nothing that he can do. He’s stuck on the ship, alone, for the rest of his life.
After a year of isolation, he’s started to lose his mind. Loneliness has taken it’s toll and he can’t bare to be alone any longer. This is when he wakes Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) and makes it look like her hibernation pod malfunctioned like his did. Stuck together as, essentially, the last two humans they’ll meet in their lifetimes, romance begins to blossom but there’s something fundamentally wrong with the ship and we’re always wondering if Jim will ever tell Aurora he’s the reason she’s awake and he’s given her a death sentence.
Fundamentally, this film is flawed. It decides to play everything very safe rather than expanding on what could be some very interesting concepts and questions. Pratt and Lawrence have great screen chemistry and there’s fun to be had watching their relationship develop, although Aurora’s claim that they’re two of the unlikeliest people to end up together is a bit hard to believe. Two good looking, charming, fun people, of course we can see them as a couple. Yet, however strong the chemistry it isn’t totally enough to draw attention away from the problems that Passengers has. Although I do give this film a bit more credit than some critics have in it’s handling of the whole situation of Jim waking Aurora up, I still think this could have been pushed much further. We see it play of Jim’s mind but we should see it torture him and things are glossed over quite quickly, the film instead opting to show off the leads charisma over raw emotion. That said you can’t fault Pratt and Lawrence, both are really strong and there’s moments of really strong acting.
There are also some pretty big plot holes, mainly that the ship is detecting the ever growing mechanical problems but for some reason there isn’t a safety protocol to wake up crew members if there’s a mission critical failure. Also the fact that there aren’t any spare pods on the whole spaceship that’s made to sustain 5000 passengers. It doesn’t really make much sense even in a world of heightened, incredibly safe technology.
Yet if you manage to overlook these issues it is quite an enjoyable film. As mentioned, Jim and Aurora have strong chemistry, there’s a few chuckles and even some drama. The last third dissolves into a typical disaster sci-fi but that’s obviously the audience that the filmmakers are aiming for. The effects, set design and costume can’t be faulted and it’s got a great score to help carry the tension towards the end.
I think this film does exactly what it sets out to do and achieves what it wants to a achieve, it’s just a shame that the filmmakers weren’t slightly more ambitious with what they wanted to do.