STARRING: JENNIFER LAWRENCE; CHRIS PRATT; MICHAEL SHEEN
DIRECTED BY: MORTEN TYLDUM
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
In Passengers, two of the most beautiful people in the world find themselves awake and stranded on a spaceship with 90 years left till it reaches its destination. It makes for a lonely existence, but at least the ship they are on is what I think would be Apples version of a SmartShip, filled with talking computers and food provided without the need of a living person. Unfortunately, in Morten Tyldum's (The Imitation Game) newest film, it's the ship that is more interesting than the two humans, played by Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Passengers is a movie completely out of touch with romance and science fiction.
When the ship passes through a cluster of meteors, it rocks and jars the ship, which wakes up mechanic Jim Preston (Chris Pratt). He arises from his hibernation pod, only to realize that everyone else is still asleep, leaving him alone for what would be the rest of his life. His only source of companionship is an android bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen), who looks stolen right out of Stanley Kubrick's The Shinning. Jim grows a crappy Grizzly Adams-like beard, while keeping himself busy for a year with a dance battle video game, basketball, and libations. When he walks past a pod and notices the beautiful writer Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), Jim begins to study her personal files in the ships computer. He becomes infatuated with her and hits a breaking point, leading to his drastically egregious decision to wake her up, ruining her life forever.
Let's set the ethical questions about his choice aside, that could be a review on it's own, especially since Passengers is a failure on many other levels. The direction from Morten Tyldum is well crafted in terms of set design and inventive concept, but fails to generate any chemistry from Lawrence and Pratt. The Jurassic World star fits the attractive superstar part, with his muscles and mouth smirks, but he still struggles to generate any personality to make us care about him. As for Lawrence, this is by far the Oscar winner's worst performance to date, partly due to a ghastly script from John Spaihts (Prometheus), which has her saying lines like “I'm a journalist, I know people.” or multiple lame jokes about the two being the only ones on the ship. There are plenty of interesting moral and science questions that Passengers could deal with, such as if the android could have human emotions or if love could survive on a lonely ship, but they never bother to dig deeper than a flighty romance. Even love seems to be lost in space.
By the time the third act comes around another person arrives on the ship (I'm not going to spoil who it is) and the special effects turn up as a late effort for us to care. There is a pretty cool sequence involving the loss of gravity and Lawrence in a swimming pool. Other than that, it's a lost journey. On the surface, Tyldum seemed to be going for a Titanic meets Gravity vibe, but there is more sheen on this film than the top coat of lacker on the deck of a yacht. Although the setting is in a slick and far distant future, if you take one look at the movies poster or Lawrence's constantly perfect crinkled hair, this is more of a boost to the two leads modeling careers than it is for their acting chops.
Passengers is a large scale disappointment. The talent involved in a film of this magnitude should take audiences on far away adventures, while inspecting moral dilemmas like the ones we face on earth. Instead, we get a chance to see two beautiful people hook-up in space after a jerk wakes up his beauty from her slumber, just for the sake of his own selfishness. If someone asks you to go see Passengers, it might be best to stay asleep.
Written by: Leo Brady