Passengers is directed by Morten Tyldum and stars Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence who are people along with thousands of others on their way to a new planet as Earth is becoming overpopulated. However, unlike every other ‘passenger’ these two utterly beautiful human specimens find themselves woken from cryogenic sleep with 90 years left of travel. They must deal with the fact that they may die on this spaceship and never reach their new home. Whilst a romance between them blossoms and the ship faces some malfunctions that may mean Jim (Pratt) and Aurora (Lawrence) shouldn’t be worried about dying from old age.
I enjoyed the characters in this film very much. Chris Pratt is… well he’s Chris Pratt, Chris Pratting about and man I love watching Chris Pratt, Chris Pratting about. He’s just one of the most likable people in Hollywood right now. He may only have one arrow in his quiver but he hits the bullseye with that arrow every time. However, I do think with the roles and writing he has been presented within his film career the role he portrays is the only one available to him so far (maybe Magnificent Seven was an exception to it, maybe the fact I can’t remember what his character was like says something about the impression that film ultimately made). Jennifer Lawrence also does a great Katniss impression; I’m becoming more and more sour on her as an actor. I just don’t see what everyone sees. She’s fine don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying she’s a terrible actor she’s just utterly adequate. With her performance in Apocalypse that looked like she had a knife in her back the entire time, I have found myself doubting whether she is or has the potential to be one of the best actors out there. But yeah, she’s completely fine in this film. Now one of my favourite aspects of this film is Michael Sheen as the android bar tender. He I such a good actor and manages to portray a spectrum of emotion through an android how cannot perceive emotion. I would’ve liked it if he was throughout the whole ship: he works in the shops, is the information droid, is the waiter at all the restaurants etc. If this film ended up giving me nothing I would still have the pleasure of watching Michael Sheen work. Between these three main characters we are treated some pretty stellar chemistry. They play off each other very well, especially Sheen and Pratt. Jim and Aurora’s scenes are also mostly good, well-acted and believable (but come on they’re too perfect how can you believe that? Maybe they’re the androids…) Laurence Fishburne is in this film and he is good (of course he is). That is all that can be said for his character he is there to serve a specific purpose to help the story move forward and that is it. He brings no new points of view or motivations to the film. His character is also a representation of one of my main problems with the film. But I will not go into that right now.
The CGI in this film is flawless there isn’t a single effect that wasn’t pulled off perfectly. There is one scene that has been in a few of the trailers where Jennifer Lawrence is having a nice midnight swim where she is rudely interrupted by the absence of gravity and she has to try to escape from being drowned whilst floating in a huge ball of water. And it is (even without Jennifer Lawrence) beautiful. I the design of the ship is also very nice and I don’t know why I feel this, but it seems ‘realistic’ as in this could be a ship created in the future. I’m not sure if it was done on purpose but to me it seems quite comparable to the ship in Sunshine, which as I’m writing this seems completely irrelevant but hey I thought it was a cool reference that’s probably not a reference.
The premise of this film is incredibly promising if you just consider the skeleton of the film. It’s all the meat and those pesky organs where this film just falls short for me. The twist that we I think that we were promised in the films marketing, I remember hearing “there’s a reason we woke up” in the trailers. There isn’t. And then after watching the film play out then coming out of the cinema I find out that one of the significant moments in the film is written completely differently and frankly the original script had the far superior approach to this event. It would’ve given the film the injection of mystery that it needed because without this the film is almost empty. There a lot of very well executed things going on but there’s nothing with any real bite to it. The idea that these two are now destined to die without having lived the lives they had perceived themselves having is touched upon but never really delved into. That is indicative of this film it never really goes below the surface; everything is how you expect it to be.
Throughout the film there is a feeling that something big is going to happen, some sinister twist is coming around the corner and it never does. Which causes you to leave the film unsatisfied as, I feel, the writing continuously promotes anticipation for a big twist that never comes. I do get the feeling that the writers got to finishing this film and they had no idea how to bring it all together neatly. From watching the marketing and seeing the film I also would not be surprised if the film went through mega changes in through re-shoots and the post production stage. The film promised by the trailers just isn’t the film I witnessed, which is upsetting because I was looking forward to THAT film. The ‘twist’ (I’m not sure you can call it that) that we are eventually served up is so abrupt and then abruptly dealt with. It is almost like they realized they wanted a twist but also saw they had little runtime left. So, they just chucked a pointless and easily dealt with twist that is incredibly underwhelming. Which is also when Laurence Fishburne’s character comes in. It’s not really explained where he came from to be honest. I mean he probably just woke up but I don’t think we’re showed where he woke up and the fate of the character comes from absolutely nowhere and again is not explained. His character’s sole purpose is to give the ‘protagonists’ something so they can attempt to deal with the troubles they are faced with. Which yet again screams that the writers needed to bring the film to an end cleanly and didn’t really have an idea of how to do it cleverly. Although I have pretty much trashed the ending of the film here, there is a positive in there somewhere. During the climax of the film, our main characters are put in danger and I did not know which way the film was going to go. If they were going to die or not, which I think is to be commended and did leave me with a raised heartbeat.
This is one of those films that, when you’re watching, you have a good time. It is enjoyable enough to keep me concentrated for the entire run time. It is funny in parts, romantic in others and makes you feel for the characters throughout. But then you leave the cinema and start to think about it; this is where it complete falls apart. It is a harmless film that also feels quite shallow and empty upon reflection. Which is why this film is…