An enjoyable mess that won't stay long in the memory. Considering the talent involved it is a disappointment.
The script for Passengers has sat on the blacklist for several years, and it is not difficult to see why. The plot is interesting at first, but it doesn’t seem to have the strength of its convictions.
The film starts aboard the Starship Avalon, travelling towards a new home for the passengers aboard. What seems to be a peaceful, calm journey is quickly thrown into array by a collision with an asteroid. This results in the premature opening of hibernation pods, leaving their inhabitants stranded aboard a ship 90 years away from their destination. The male lead, Jim Preston, played by Chris Pratt, quickly falls into desperation as he realises the seriousness of his situation.
The film is saved by the strong interactions and chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence. With such a small cast, it can often seem hard to not out stay your welcome. Michael Sheen plays the android barman who tries to help Chris Pratt work through his problems. However, the vast majority of the screen time is taken up by the two A-List names, and they keep the film watchable despite some questionable plot points and dialogue.
The film attempts to raise some moral issues regarding loneliness and how far one should go in order to have companionship, but it never really addresses these questions completely. The setup is fascinating and as the film progresses, you expect that the resolution towards these dilemmas will be resolved, yet many will leave the cinema dissatisfied. The moral dilemma has already caused a lot of debate and some anger from certain people, and it is troubling, but could have worked well had it been developed and expanded on rather than shoved to the side.
The film is also a classic case of too much of the film being given away in the trailer. The theatrically released trailer sums up most the film’s plot points, major action scenes and also some of the funnier lines. Many of the complaints from audiences have focused on the deception in the trailer, and that it mis-sold the real nature of the film. The film is certainly a different beast to the one portrayed in the trailers, and it feels like the producers weren’t sure what sort of film they wanted to create.
With the talent involved, Passengers had great prospects and has a strong set up but it is quickly bogged down, and despite great set pieces it started to become slightly tedious. At just over two hours long, it takes too long to get to the point, and when it does, it is ultimately disappointing.
Passengers (2016), directed by Morten Tyldum, is distributed in the UK by Sony Pictures Entertainment. Certificate 12A.