A science fiction love story, set on a starship starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt should be as bulletproof as Superman, but as we’ve learned in the past, looks can be deceiving. Passengers, directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), is one of the most anticipated films of the holiday season, built up by a cleverly suspenseful trailer campaign and starring the two most beloved stars in Hollywood. As with their journey in the film, the movie starts off with a lot of promise, but quickly finds itself relying on the strengths of its cast to drive it home. Is the film worth your trip to the theater?
Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) are two of 5,000 passengers traveling in hibernation aboard the starship Avalon to the new colony of Homestead II. A 120 year journey that neither of them would know anything about, until an unexpected event causes a malfunction in Jim’s pod, waking him 90 years too soon. Aurora would soon follow, leaving the two travelers alone together, trying to find a way to put themselves back into hibernation. The mystery surrounding Aurora’s pod is a major plot point in the film and one I will gloss over to save you a spoiler, but it works well, I assure you. Left only with the company of themselves and an android bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen), Jim and Aurora find themselves accepting the hard truth that they may live out their lives together, alone on this starship, and never reach their intended destination. The two find themselves quickly falling for one another. When the continued malfunctions of the ship become apparently more frequent, Jim and Aurora must use their strengths to follow the clues and locate the problems before the ship is destroyed, but will the mystery surrounding their awakening become the thing that destroys them?
Over everything else, Passengers is a character driven film set in a science fiction universe; this helps makes the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence work so well. Each actor encounters the agony of being alone and the inherent understanding that human beings need companionship to survive and to what ends you will go to achieve that need. Both Pratt and Lawrence are on top of their game and deliver performances that will ultimately save the film; I say save because the second half of the film is where the story begins to lose you. Plot holes lead to sloppy build up which leads to a conclusion that should feel satisfying, but falls just short of the mark.
Overall, Passengers is a long winded journey into space that stumbles over its missed opportunities but gets you there in the end. Worth the wait? Hardly, but still worth the trip to the theater.
2 1/2 out of 5
After Credit Scene?