Passengers is a film that had a lot of promise. From the moment its first trailer landed, showcasing its minimal, but A-List talent, it seemed safe to assume the film would be a hit.
Unfortunately, the trailers put out ahead of the film were quite misleading. The first two showed elements of romance, but focused primarily on the film’s action and thriller sequences, as Pratt and Lawrence’s characters struggled to save a ship full of people from impending doom.
The third, and shortest trailer, is perhaps the most accurate; featuring music from Imagine Dragons, the trailer focuses entirely on the romance aspect of the film, with little in the way of action or thrills even hinted at. It’s as if the publicity teams were ashamed the film was an unapologetic love-story and worried it wouldn’t bring in all the science-fiction fans it seemed to be catered to.
Similarly, each trailer shows five characters in the film; Chris Pratt’s Jim Preston, Jennifer Lawrence’s Aurora Lane, Michael Sheen’s Arthur, Lawrence Fishburne’s Gus Mancuso and Andy Garcia’s Captain Norris. In truth, the only characters of note are the first three.
Andy Garcia may have well as not been in the movie; he’s in it no longer than he features in the trailers; and Lawrence Fishburne is relegated to being little more than a plot device who only appears for about ten to fifteen minutes.
To catch you up on the plot, the film follows Jim Preston, one of the five-thousand passengers aboard the starship Avalon, who are in hibernation as they travel from Earth to the colonised planet Homestead II, a one-hundred and twenty year journey away. Thirty years in, the Avalon collides with a pretty sizable meteor, which causes some of the ship’s facilities to malfunction, including Jim’s stasis pod. Jim wakes up alone and is forced to make the most of waking up ninety years too early, until, one year into his solitude, another passenger, Aurora Lane, awakens, and everything changes.
From that point, when everything changes, the film loses much of the drama that comes from Preston’s isolation alongside the charismatic robot Arthur, and morphs into a full-on romance that carries through until the climax of the film. This really stalls the film’s progress, as there’s just so much that they could have done with it, but didn’t.
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, lovely as they are, are just playing the same characters they play in pretty much every movie. The story is predictable and fairly drawn out, and by the time things actually move on to become the action thriller audiences were sold on, you may find yourself hoping for some big reveal as to what’s sabotaged the ship, forgetting that it was actually just the aforementioned meteor crash at the start. You want it to be something more, because frankly, what you get is a bit of a let-down. It’s like Titanic in space, but if they hit the iceberg so long ago that you can’t remember why the ship is still sinking.
Dir: Morten Tyldum
Scr: Jon Spaihts
Cast: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne & Andy García
Prd: Stephen Hamel
Music: Thomas Hewson
DOP: Rodrigo Prieto
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Passengers is in cinemas now.