COLUMBIA PICTURES (2017)
Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
Imagine having the most luxurious ship in the history of mankind all to yourself? Sounds pretty cool huh? Well that’s the fate that became of Jim Preston (Pratt). He, along with 4,999 other passengers, are aboard the Avalon spaceship embarking towards the lush planet of Homestead II to begin a new life and colonization. The problem is, the other 4,999 passengers are in hibernation and have been for 30 years. A malfunction has caused Jim’s pod to malfunction and now he is awake, alone in space for 90 years.
I imagine his diary entry for that day was simply, “Bollocks”.
For parts the film is just that, but thankfully the performances of the four cast members saves this ship from exploding into atoms, Lawrence especially. When you cast the beautiful duo of Pratt and Lawrence together and lead the marketing with huge images of just their clean faces, it’s fairly fortunate they had some chemistry together. The obligatory sci-fi robot came in the form of a seductive turn from the ever-reliable Martin Sheen as the ship’s barman Arthur, evoking undeniable references to Lloyd from The Shining and Fishburne’s small cameo advanced the movie slightly.
After Jim has spent a year alone, he finally relents to his desire/loneliness and hijacks the sleeping pod of Aurora Lane (Lawrence) – a young journalist with dreams of detailing life on Homestead II and returning home to Earth to tell her story. This is where things became a bit creepy, man alone on ship tampers with a young woman’s ship so he can have her to himself – love, lust or deranged? Either way, she eventually falls for it and everything seems great, until the turn. It could be argued that destiny deemed it necessary for Jim to awaken Aurora, since the ailing ship would have been destroyed without Lawrence’s presence. Sometimes, the ends justify the means, even if those ends are not originally obvious.
Passengers is a strange movie, there’s never really any tension is its set pieces, the romance seems strange and the story jumps from idea to idea in a fumbled way, which given its 116 minute runtime isn’t great. One of the better aspects was that whilst watching it, it reminded me of a far better movie, again, The Shining - the spaceship reminded me of the Overlook Hotel in its appearance, empty interior, the isolated fear and, of course, the bar room. It’s not that Passengers is abysmal, there’s just not an awful lot to remember once the movie has ended – it’s fun to watch Pratt enjoying the ship’s luxuries fraudulently, Lawrence wears a cool white bikini, the deception is devilish and you get to see Chris Pratt’s toned arse twice. There’s something for everyone here. That’s about where it ends though.
For two people destined to die on this ship, one who had huge hopes and dreams, the trauma wears off pretty quickly once there’s some lovin’ to be had. It may not have made for a greater film, but some deep, hidden disturbance should have been portrayed greater. It’s a good thing Jim is a mechanic on a deserted and damaged spaceship too. It’s also a good thing Fishburne’s deus ex-machina arrived when he did too, out of nowhere. Too many contrivances occur at the second act’s end and through the final act for this to really carry itself to the finish line.
The ending itself was limper than the script, I like a good sci-fi as much as anyone, but this was just painful. The final message and actual ending is sweet but what came before defies any belief – Lawrence should have been tucking into BBQ’d Chris Pratt’s toned arse, but alas, that did not happen.
For all its shine and polished looks, Passengers fails on delivering an entertaining movie for its runtime. There’s too much of nothing going on, too little of anything meaningful happening and a whole lot of airtime for the leads looks and bodies. Somewhere along the way, the movie became a, well…passenger to itself.
Hello airlock, take me…please.
July 19th 2017