Passengers (2016) – Review

2 Stars

Passengers is a good-looking film starring good-looking people, it’s just not a good movie. Taking elements of Kubrick’s 2001 and The Shinning, Passengers results in mixed bag of romantic sentiment, sci-fi visuals, and weak story elements. For the first time since breaking out on the scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Chris Pratt comes off as dull. Jennifer Lawrence fares better, if only because she has less screen-time, but overacts in a few key moments. Without the budget and star names attached Passengers could have been a Syfy channel mini-series or straight-to-DVD B-movie starring Tyler Lautner and Selena Gomez.

Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is one of five thousand other hibernating passengers on a 130 year odyssey aboard the space vessel Avalon. When a rogue meteor causes system failure aboard the ship, Jim’s pod malfunctions, awakening the dazed travel a full 90 years too soon. Stranded alone on the luxury liner floating through the cosmos, Jim decides to awaken Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence). She is an upper level member of the ship who has access to better food and room accommodations. More than that she is a love interest for the isolated man.

The film’s humorous moments come in the form of an old-school robot bartender (Michael Sheen) who is exceedingly polite and painfully honest. This proves dangerous because Jim has confided his guilt of waking Aurora, virtually a death sentence, to the glitchy android. Unbeknownst to the two passengers is that the ship is slowly shutting down and the lives of everyone onboard is in their hands.

Passengers has some intriguing elements that are never fully realized. I liked the subtle nods to classism with the wristbands that grant access to better amenities. There is also some hints at horror themes that would have given the film a harder edge. The benign tone of the film is established early and it becomes difficult to care about the main characters when the whole plot feels so contrived. This type of half-assed star vehicle would have seemed fresher twenty years ago.

Director: Morten Tyldum
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen

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