Nick Cabelli for Cinetalk.net
Passengers is a big-budget 3D-enabled space adventure. Helmed by Norwegian director Mortem Tyldum (The Imitation Game, Headhunters) and starring Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games, X-Men, Silver Linings Playbook) and Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) as two passengers who are awoken mid-route on their 100+ year journey to a colony on a planet far, far away. The film is a light and competent PG-13 smorgasbord of hard science-fiction, corporate satire, technological intrigue and what passes for ‘romance,’—some wooing, some fabulous formal wear, lots of making out, a few PG-13 sex scenes.
Passengers hopes to be a crowd-pleasing adventure movie, and its family friendly rating might have ultimately handicapped it from addressing seriously its themes. Along the adventurous romp, issues of isolation, desperation, love, hate, suicide and sacrifice are treated as light and superficial: now I’m suicidal, now I’m in love. Passengers is a great looking film and an intriguing spaceship design makes the setting the most compelling aspect of it. The arcs of the human characters are unfulfilled—or worse, zag suddenly, crazily even. In the hopes of not depressing everyone, Passengers in the final act loses all its realism and verisimilitude.
What could have been a fine swashbuckling, romantic space adventure is nearly ruined by just how shallow and thin its characters are, leaving no believable people to sympathize with, only the ‘adventurous’ things they do. The result is better than a hot mess, but the early fervor circling the Internet—criticizing the on-screen motivations and actions of the top-billed space hero—is certainly justified. Call it a faulty plot or phoney characters, but if you’ve been paying attention to either for the entire 2-hour running time, the resolution could only leave a bad taste in your mouth.
However, if you like brainless space adventures in 3D, with floating things and sparkly things, and find the idea of two beautiful and completely unrealistic people doing plot points for a couple of hours, this might totally be your bag.
In space, can murder be confused with… love?