Release Date: December 21, 2016
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Jon Spaihts
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Conor Brophy, Julee Cerda, Aurora Perrineau, Lauren Farmer, Emerald Mayne, Kristin Brock, Tom Ferrari, Quansae Rutledge, Desmond Reid, Emma Clarke, Chris Edgerly, Fred Melamed, Matt Corboy, Jesus Mendoza, Alpha Takahashi, Matthew Wolf, Jean-Michel Richaud
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 116 minutes
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, LStar Capital, Village Roadshow Pictures, Original Film, Company Films, Start Motion Pictures, Wanda Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Romance
Budget: $110,000,000 (estimated)
What an experience it would be to soar through outer space, soaking in all the mysteries this universe has to offer. As most would, if safety was a guarantee, I’d jump at the opportunity. The main problem is safety isn’t guaranteed. So a hard decision must be made. The marketing for Passengers teased the real reason behind the star-filled voyage, and it’s disappointing that the studio had to lie to sell tickets. Studios do this often, cutting a trailer months before a film’s release and ending up not using all of the footage that was advertised. It’s foul and sets the wrong expectations, but in some forms it pays off. Here it doesn’t. It’s interesting what works for entertainment these days. Some would request a full cast of main leads and extras, while this one focuses only on two. And their pairing together was like a match made in heaven. There’s a number of things that went right and wrong within Passengers, but on the positive side the romantic undertones was a pleasure to witness.
Going into the film, the logical question anyone would ask is what’s the point of it all or why. Why are humans leaving the earth to colonize a new planet? Why did Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) wake up too early? Was it on purpose or an accident? Initially, I thought the answers to some questions would be obvious, but it turns out they weren’t; which creates more mystery. Though some of the questions take too long to answer, and the film focuses on another plot point you weren’t expecting. Of course mystery is welcomed, but only under the right model. The direction the film started to take was an entertaining one, but not the journey most signed up for. After a while you may accept what’s happening while enjoying the ride, but leading an audience on is not the best approach.
What was slightly impressive was the reaction of Jim and Aurora when they learned of their impending demise, waking up decades earlier than they’re supposed to and being trapped forever in a lifeless spacecraft. The irony behind it all is the ship possessed everything they needed, but having no one to share it with made it feel like a prison. As would happen to anyone, a nervous panic filled their bodies as they ran around frantically looking for answers. They took the emotions right out of my body, as I or anyone would be reacting the same way. Then the best advice ever imaginable came into fruition, which is not to worry about the things you can’t control. This is where things began to get fun again, as our two leads embrace their situation and live life to the fullest. As they’re frolicking along through Montague, it was a treat to see their relationship blossom into something beautiful.
Though as the characters begin to accept their fate, so did I as an audience member. Initially upset with a character decision, I started to come around. The lie presented early on made it difficult to get on board and hope for success, because the main person you’re supposed to root for is selfish. Someone may argue the point, but he didn’t make the best choice by putting himself at a higher level of importance than anyone else. In a weird twisted way, it turned out to be beneficial for his conquest, but it was an accidental discovery or sequence of events that pushed him forward. It wasn’t a well thought out plan, that would gain your respect, but just dumb luck and lazy writing that saved the day.
That should be the description of the last fifteen minutes of this film. The first hour and forty-five minutes appeared to be a realistic account of what could possibly happen in the real world, but towards the end it was thrown all away for convenience. I found myself shaking my head frustrated with the plan of attack. It’s almost as if all emotions, logic, and events that came before were completely ignored just to end the film. Though when it did end it was an enjoyable conclusion, it just stumbled terribly towards the finish line. In short, imagine you’re told you’re going to drive the nicest car across the country. Instead of the nicest car, you get a decent car. Then the entire drive is superb, but right as you’re about to approach the finish line the car breaks down and drugs (plot holes) fly out of the trunk, from under the hood, and out of the glove box. Then it continues to roll over the finish line as if nothing happened. That’s Passengers in a nut shell.