Passengers has been in what’s known as “development hell” for years – the original script by Jon Spaihts was written in 2007 and had lined up Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt to star. It finally got off the ground thanks to box office stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt and Oscar-nominated The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum.
They play two passengers, Aurora and Jim, who are travelling on the Starship Avalon towards new colony planet Homestead II. The 5,000 passengers are placed into hibernation pods for the 120-year journey, but they are strangely woken up with around 90 years to go, meaning they will die before reaching their destination.
They are only ones awake on the ship, except android bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen), and romance blossoms, but their new life together is soon interrupted by malfunctions on the ship, which will have a fatal conclusion unless they fix it.
The movie has an exciting premise and started off well, spending a lot of time developing their burgeoning relationship, but it never quite convinces. There is a significant twist early on in the movie which gives it a darker edge rather than the straightforward romance the trailers lead audiences to believe. It immediately makes their romance questionable meaning it’s hard to care about it when it’s tested later on.
The dialogue is also quite unnatural and clunky at times, and some lines simply didn’t ring true, and even the star power of Oscar winner Lawrence and man of the moment Pratt can’t elevate the script into an amazing movie – although they were clearly trying, Lawrence more obviously so.
Pratt injects his signature charm and humour into earlier scenes, which gives it a lightness, as does every scene with Sheen, who is by far the best element of the movie. He wonderfully plays a robot bartender, who provides a lot of laughs, which are in short supply later on.
The movie looks gorgeous and a romantic sci-fi felt fresh. A lot of the earlier scenes, especially of the leads exploring the ship, are also well done, but the plot becomes more and more implausible, even given the sci-fi setting.
It’s unconvincingly sentimental and two surprise acting additions were underused. Add to that a ridiculous ending, meaning Passengers won’t go down as Lawrence and Pratt’s finest work.
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