Jennifer Lawrence + Chris Pratt + sci-fi love story- I was so excited when I saw the trailers because it seemed like the recipe for an amazing movie. Unfortunately, the amazing cast is unable to hold this film up.
The main issue with Passengers is its flawed writing – it is a great concept but the writers could not do that idea justice. So let’s quickly go over the story, in the future earth has colonies and a luxury liner kind of spaceship with immigrants/colonists to one of these colonies has trouble with a huge asteroid. This causes some malfunctions, one of which is that Chris Pratt’s character Jim’s hibernation pod is damaged and he is awakened.
He quickly realizes he is the only one awake and the ship still has 90 years to reach it’s destination. Jim, a mechanical engineer tries various solutions such as attempting to awaken the crew which seems to be in a ridiculously strong cabin with restricted access, and even making a call to Earth. He is unsuccessful and the movie then turns into a castaway-in-space, Pratt carries this section really well because he is genuinely likeable and has such a fun screen presence.
Soon, Jim becomes a creepy stalker and goes down a morally debatable path where he decides to awaken another passenger, well just because she is pretty and you know, he needs company. Jennifer Lawrence who plays Aurora (don’t miss the Sleeping Beauty reference) is awakened and led to believe that her pod also malfunctioned. The both of them hit it off and the movie then turns into a space-Titanic, with them going on long walks in space and having dinners in the ship’s fancy restaurants.
Eventually she finds out that he woke her up and is appropriately infuriated. This is a great point to explore- the moral implications of what Jim did, is it effectively murder or is it like taking someone hostage and how do two characters trapped in this situation proceed? Unfortunately the movie decides not to go down that path and instead softens the reasoning behind Jim’s actions.
This is what I couldn’t work out – it seemed like the movie was several themes in one. Is it a castaway story, is it a romance, why was it suddenly dark and voyeuristic? Seriously, the number of scenes with Lawrence in a swimsuit outnumber the ones where she is clothed. Not that sci-fi can’t explore dark romantic themes – obsession, stalking, etc. Remember Ex-machina? But Passengers fails to stick to one storyline and comes off like it’s confused. Because the characters aren’t given time to explore this situation, instead they are quickly dragged into the reason why the ship malfunctioned in the first place – a problem that has suddenly escalated.
I really detest when writers can think of nothing but a dues ex machina solution to wrap up a film. Enter Lawrence Fishburne whose sole purpose seems to be handing over a key/pass with access to the ship’s restricted areas. The film then throws in every space movie cliche into the mix – with the hero sacrificing himself to hold doors open to lead the movie to its somewhat happy ending.
There were so many strange issues with the film that I just couldn’t stop listing them after the movie was over – why didn’t they just awaken the crew? How could they assume that the both of them had thought of every possible solution as opposed to a trained crew? Why is there only one medical pod for a ship with almost 5000 people? Why does this advanced space ship not have a fail-safe which awakens a crew member or a trained robot to deal with what seems like obvious issues that one would face in space travel such as an asteroid? They have hundreds of housekeeping robots but none that can actually go around doing ship repairs or offer medical support? Why would there not be a way to put someone under hibernation in a ship that has pools, malls, holographic dance-off studios and fancy multi-cuisine restaurants, clearly indicating that funds are not an issue for them to skimp on obvious facilities? I could go on and on and on. In fact that may be a great reason to watch the movie- to discuss all the possible obvious solutions to their problems which could have given the movie room to explore deeper themes!
Before I sign off let me say what I did like about the movie – the VFX are great, Pratt and Lawrence are amazing as always and the best moments in the film are when Pratt’s character is alone, there is a genuineness to that part which is lost in the rest of the film.
Let me know what you thought of the movie and if you too had any questions regarding the logic in the movie!