A somewhat disappointing, yet entertaining sci-fi romance.
When I first heard about Passengers I was very excited. I’m a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan (after all, she will be my wife) and Chris Pratt I have always found inherently funny and charming. However, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in a film which has two of the best and hottest actors in the business right now.
The film centres around Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), a passenger aboard Starship Avalon which is transporting thousands of people from an overpopulated Earth to a colony planet. Jim is accidentally woken from his hibernation pod 90 years too early and cannot go back to sleep, therefore he is left alone with only cleaning robots and a robotic bar tender (Michael Sheen) for company.
The beginning of the film with just Chris Pratt is very strong. It builds the creepy atmosphere well and you really get the sense of loneliness that Jim feels and feel genuine sympathy for the character, particularly when he debates committing suicide and breaks down to tears.
The film then toys with the audience’s feelings toward Jim as he makes what many would consider a morally and ethically wrong decision. Unlike what most critics are saying, I feel this is actually a strength to the film as they explore unethical behaviour without demonising Jim’s character. Just because someone does a bad thing it doesn’t necessarily make them an evil person.
However, it’s the final act that most of the problems lie. The conclusion to the film feels a bit lacklustre and very rushed. Jim and Aurora’s (Jennifer Lawrence) relationship is explored well throughout the film, but it leaves the plot about the ship itself on the back burner. The film cuts from multiple moments, problems and issues whilst the duo attempt to fix an essentially sinking ship that it feels as if it’s flying by too fast and therefore a lot of the tension is lost because there’s a lack of build up to it. Cutting out some unnecessary steps and taking more time getting to what is actually quite a final few moments would have made the final act much more satisfying.
The performances are good, however there isn’t much that’s special about them but, at the same time, there’s nothing that’s bad either. Perhaps this is another reason the film feels disappointing, because with the chosen cast there’s an expectation for brilliance.
One very strong element of the film, which is often overlooked, is it’s special effects which never fail to be enticing. No matter the countless times space is created in a film, there is still a sense of wonder when it’s done well, and Passengers doesn’t fail to achieve this. Furthermore, the brilliant anti-gravity scene with Jennifer Lawrence swimming in a pool of water which begins to float is spectacularly well done.
As previously mentioned, the first act with just Chris Pratt is created very well. It builds a creepy atmosphere surrounding the character’s loneliness that is reminiscent to The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980).
All in all, the film isn’t fantastic but it’s not bad either. It’s just fine. There isn’t anything that stands out as being particularly outstanding about it but this doesn’t make it a bad watch, and most of all it’s an easy watch which is sometimes all that’s needed.