UK Release Date: 21st December 2016
Runtime: 116 minutes
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Jon Spaihts
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
Synopsis: A man and a woman are stranded alone on an enormous and seemingly malfunctioning spaceship when their sleep pods mysteriously open 90 years ahead of their arrival date on a new colony planet.
Passengers is a strange movie to review because I honestly can’t fathom who it is for. Those looking for sci fi are going to find bland, by the numbers location design, those looking for a thriller are going to find the twist and turns in the plot as predictable as the Sun rising in the morning and those looking for romance will find a leading man who is so morally repugnant that it nearly broke our poor editor, Tom, in his instant reaction to the movie.
The film follows the story of two spaceship passengers, played by Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, who are on their way to a new planet to start a new life. The trip takes hundreds of years, so the passengers are put into suspended animation until they arrive. Something goes wrong, however, leaving Pratt and Lawrence awake with 90 more years on their journey, apparently forcing them to live the rest of their lives aboard the deserted spaceship with only an android barman (Michael Sheen) for company.
If you’ve seen any of the marketing for Passengers, you know that it’s setting up huge amounts of mystery and intrigue in order to suggest to audiences that the film boasts some sort of deep thriller plot. Well, without spoiling the movie, it really doesn’t. None of the twists and turns come as a surprise and are certainly not worth the price of admission. It’s a shame because, without any big revelations, Passengers doesn’t really have anything to offer.
It’s a very confused movie. It doesn’t feel like there is any central vision to what it wants to be or who it’s aiming to be for. The largest driving narrative theme is actually romance. Nearly the whole narrative thrust of the movie comes from the relationship being built between Pratt and Lawrence and their emergent love in an extreme situation. Hiring two of this generation’s most charismatic actors was a smart choice, but individual charisma isn’t enough to carry the movie. For one, the pair have very little chemistry. Pratt feels like he can’t wait to get back to his trailer and cash his pay check and, while Lawrence seems to be actually putting in some effort this time, unlike her last appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse, she comes in to the movie far too late and doesn’t have enough to do besides give Pratt the googly eyes.
They do not play off each other well and the relationship is only believable if you assume that the characters are under the effects of Stockholm Syndrome. Worse still is the second act revelation for one of the characters that should completely end any chance of the characters living happily ever after, due to some truly ethically questionable actions. The whole thing then ends in a syrupy fart of a finale that will make anyone with a functioning moral compass scratch their head at how absolutely screwed the movies morals are.
There’s nothing else besides the romance angle. That’s it. Sheen is mildly entertaining, but he adds nothing to the film other than some light comic relief and acts as a pointless red herring. Laurence Fishburne even pops up briefly to look awkward in a bad space suit and that’s about it for him.
I kept hoping the movie would do something interesting, like take a left turn into schlock for its finale, which it frustratingly flirts with at times, but instead there’s nothing. It’s predictable, it’s pap and anyone who goes to see it will have been thoroughly duped by the nonsense spouted by the marketing campaign.
Pop or Poop?
Passengers is a space turd, flushed out at the end of the year to make just enough money off the overflow from Rogue One to make its money back, squandering two of modern cinema’s biggest and most charismatic stars. Don’t go see this crap.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.