Two passengers aboard a spacecraft are awoken from hibernation
90 years early, and must make the most of a dire situation.
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Written by Jon Spaihts
Starring Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen,
Oscar Nominations - Best Production Design,
Best Original Score (Thomas Newman)
Passengers initially won me over with its ability to shape a truly mesmerizing sense of isolation. As the film progresses, that sense starts to lessen, but it never goes away. Despite serious critical backlash upon release, Passengers is a surprisingly solid film that stands on the believable chemistry of its two leads, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. It isn't until the third act that the sappiness starts to take over and this decent character study is capped off with a disappointingly simple and predictable Hollywood ending. The biggest problem is that the main character's dark, inhuman decision never comes back to haunt him, leaving the film with the message "As long as you get what you want, what does it matter who gets hurt in the process?"
The trailers for this film pretty much lied about its premise. Due to an unexplained malfunction, Jim (Pratt) wakes up from hibernation aboard the Starship Avalon ninety years before he's supposed to. With no answers and nobody to talk to, Jim spends a year by himself slowly losing his mind. This is the most fascinating part of the film, as you really do feel like his mind is slipping away from him. Then, he gets the bright idea to wake up somebody else to keep him company, and he decides that Aurora (Lawrence) is just the girl to do it. This is the big unethical choice I was talking about. By the end of it, even after she realizes what he's done, they still end up together and live out the rest of their lives alone on the ship. It feels insincere, especially after her reaction to his deception. I think that if the film had gone the extra mile to provide an ending that fits the tone of the first two acts, this would've been a very different movie.
Though it sounds like the ending ruined the movie for me, I actually enjoyed Passengers. It's corny at times but it works because of Pratt and Lawrence. The impressive visual effects and production design provided a spaceship setting that was fresh and original, and apart from the ending, the story really pulls you in. It may not be the space opera the trailers promised, but it's a far cry from the disaster the critics claimed it was.