It really felt like they were hoping they could sell this movie on the popularity of their two leads and nothing else. I do like Chris Pratt and I am genuinely annoyed by Jennifer Lawrence so it will be interesting if I can find some middle ground of entertainment with this film.
Passengers begins with a colony of passengers (roll credits) aboard the Starship Avalon who are en route to a Homestead II, a new planet that takes 120 years to reach. After the ship goes through a rough meter shower, a passenger named Jim Preston (Pratt) is awakened 90 years ahead of schedule. Trapped on a ship by himself, Jim spends over a year alone and is on the verge of suicide. He finds the pod of Aurora (Lawrence) who is one of the other 5,000 passengers aboard the ship. He decides to wake her up early causing her to suffer the same fate as him, trapped on a ship for the next 90 years by themselves.
Passengers come across as a billion dollar bottle film. You can’t help but think that this idea was thought up not too long after the film Gravity became a hit. Chris Pratt carries the load in the first half hour being the only character on-screen outside of a bartender android played by Martin Sheen. Focusing on his descent into madness, the film mirrors Castaway in space as Jim struggle with the realization that he is doomed to die alone as no one will be able to help him.
The film is actually at its strongest when it’s only Chris Pratt and that’s not bias talking. When Lawrence’s character is introduced, the film shifts from a survival film to a romance. Being the only two good-looking people awake, they naturally fall in love after being trapped for a year but of course, everything goes to hell when she realizes that their love is built on a lie and Jim as condemned her to death.
The film feels like you are watching three different films put into one, a lot like a film I reviewed earlier The Accountant. The ending is a bit dry like it wasn’t fully thought out, however, rumors of the original ending according to Vulture are likely to blame. There were many rewrites with the film and it looks like the end product was only a fraction of what the original vision was, but the original ending may have actually been worse making this one the ‘patch-up job’.
Part of me thinks this movie would have much better with a creative change or if the plot was more similar to something like Dead Space and focused more on the Sci-fi aspect of the film. Of course, seeing how bad video game movies are it’s probably a good thing they didn’t go down that route. The few actors in the film simply can’t overcome the writing shortfalls.
Passengers isn’t a bad film but it isn’t a good one either. Missed opportunities keep it from its potential. Don’t let the marquee names fool you; you are better off renting this film at home.