Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
Directed By: Morten Tyldum
Plot: In the future, a corporation called Homestead profits off sending people to colonize new planets. This process requires a 120 year journey, and stasis hibernation for those involved. One of those Passengers, Jim (Pratt), is on a mission when his pod malfunctions, waking him up 90 years too early. As he struggles with knowing he will never make it to the new planet, all alone on a “luxury cruise”, with only an android (Sheen) to keep him company, he slowly begins to lose his mind. It’s in this moment, he makes a decision that will change Aurora’s (Lawrence) life forever.
What Works: It’s really hard to actually tell you what Passengers is about without spoiling it. That plot description is about all I can get out. However, the meat of this review will have some spoilers, because I can’t really discuss this movie without talking about key plot points hidden in the trailers. First, only someone like Pratt could make a character like Jim likeable. I’ve seen too many critics raking this film through the coals, and Pratt, and the lack of chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence. I think that’s all bullshit. Pratt is the only actor capable of playing Jim. We have to like Jim in the beginning, and root for him, because he basically ends up murdering Aurora. He wakes her up, she doesn’t malfunction. He wakes her up because in a desperate moment when he’s about to kill himself, he sees her, and becomes obsessed with her. But all of this pulls him out of his deep depression, away from suicide, and he wakes her up. So even though it’s a deplorable move, we somehow still like him. As Aurora falls for him, we somehow still root for them. They’re the oddest couple of the year, but I think Lawrence and Pratt do have a ton of chemistry. I’d love to see them work together again. Also, the special effects in this film are fantastic, specifically the pool sequence when the gravity shuts off. That was amazing. I also thought Michael Sheen was a perfect android, and the film has a beautiful score.
What Doesn’t Work: Aurora falls back in love with Jim way too deeply, and too quickly. I can see her wanting to forgive him, or not wanting him to die, but she goes from deep seeded rage to head over heels in an instant. It’s a bizarre transformation that doesn’t feel honest. Also, I would have preferred her character to not be so “damsel in distress”. Lawrence is a smart, capable girl, and her character spends most of the movie asking questions. I’m also deducting points for casting Andy Garcia in a role that was just a giant waste of everyones time. His screentime consists of about 10 seconds, and has no dialogue, nor interaction with any of the characters. They cast him to use him in trailers, but he does nothing for this film, and I feel like it’s a cheap trick.
Final Word: Not nearly as bad as some of the critics would make it seem. It’s not a “rush to see it” film, but it’s an OK choice over the holidays. In many respects, I’d still say see this in theatres because the visuals actually warrant a big screen over a TV. And, again, Michael Sheen is fantastic.
Final Grade: B