WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
I like science fiction. That was one reason why I was excited to see "Passengers." I also just happen to be a big fan of both Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, so getting to spend an entire movie with them seemed like a good idea. Plus, we just don't get too many genre films these days that aren't connected to some kind of brand. Its so refreshing to see a movie driven by plot and character. Many studios are so concerned with adapting the next big thing, creating the next big movie brand, that originality doesn't win anymore. The business doesn't work like it used to, so something like "Passengers" gives me hope.
Then you actually sit down to watch the movie and you realize that "Passengers" isn't a good movie. You think to yourself, maybe there is a stark reason why studios are opting to tentpoles and brands and distancing themselves from original ideas. Well, at least original ideas that are written and manufactured like this one. "Passengers" is a bit of a mess, and had it not been for one major character misstep that ruins the entire enterprises, there is a possibility there could be good movie hidden somewhere in this endeavor. I use the word possibility for a reason though, the dialogue is written so poorly that these great actors are left looking wooden.
So why was I not a fan of "Passengers?" Well, first, let's start with a positive. This is absolutely not the movie the marketing is selling. To dig further, I am going to have to write a spoiler review. I will not write a second piece on this movie, because, quite frankly, it doesn't deserve it. I can discuss this in one sitting. But like I said, this begins with the marketing. The film does take place in the future, where a spaceship is transporting several hundred humans from Earth to Homestead II, a new planet that can sustain human life. These people come from all aspects of life, but they are united in starting a new world, becoming pioneers of this new world, even though it consists of never seeing their families or friends again. They are put to sleep are being shuttled on a 120 year journey to a new planet.
The only problem is mechanical engineer Jim Preston'S (Chris Pratt) hibernation sleep machine opens too early, and the spaceship still has ninety years left in the voyage to Homestead II. He tries every possible avenue in order to fix his problem, but he can't help his situation, he can't figure it out. Something happened to his hibernation machine, he is the only one awake. Now, the marketing would make you believe that Aurora Lane's (Jennifer Lawrence) hibernation machine malfunctioned at the exact same time as Jim's and that they find out together why there's malfunctioned. Sadly, that's not the plot. Too bad, because that would have made for a better movie. After several scenes between Jim and the robotic bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen), and a montage of Jim hanging out on the ship for a year, he walks along looking at everyone in the hibernation machines, and he sees Aurora. He falls in love with this sleeping beauty, and decides its a good idea to wake her up. Just so he isn't lonely anymore. Certainly, he doesn't tell her that though, he just turns off her machine, wakes her up and acts like hers malfunctioned too.
Now remember, these people are looking for new lives on this new planet. The ship is still on course for Homestead II. So basically, Jim is ruining this poor girls life because his pod malfunctioned. He is taking away her new life in order to satisfy his conundrum. Sure, he's lonely, sure, he contemplated suicide. But does that mean you take away somebody's chance at a new life simply because your life through a curveball at you? Life is unfair, that's something I learned at a very young age. What I was also taught at a young age is to make the most of a bad situation, and not bring others down with us. Yes, Jim's situation is horrible, but if the film turned into a "Castaway" of sorts and it was about Jim overcoming his bad situation, or finding some sort of peace...that could have made for a better movie. But we watch Jim wake Aurora up, we watch him as he gets her to fall in love with him, they begin to care for each other, and he was never going to tell her the truth, even though he told Arthur and the audience that he would.
And this is one of only two characters we are supposed to identify with, and he's one of the "heroes" of this movie.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I have a problem having to identify with a character who is selfish and entitled like this. Sure, we eventually get around to something being wrong with the ship, we get a forgettable appearance by Lawrence Fishburne. The climax of the movie is summed up in a big bowl of plot convenience. Yes, there is something wrong with the ship, but since Jim's a engineer, the problem is taking care of fairly quick and pretty much pain-free. They try to milk the suspense, but it comes to no use. They try to redeem Jim's behavior at the end of the film, but our goodwill has been wounded so much that it feels like "too little, too late." The films seemingly main focus is Jim's need to bring someone down with him because he is in pain, so we watch him ruin this girl's life. Simply because he got a hard-on for her while she was asleep. So not only is Jim selfish and entitled, he's also a creep too. Not the usual hero we find in classic science fiction, which I had hoped this movie was aiming for. They could have easily called this film "Passenger" and been done with it. Don't be fooled by this film's marketing. Its not the movie you think it is. Its not some new-age science fiction mystery. Its not something optimistic or intelligent like most science fiction. This is a movie about an entitled, creepy man who can't overcome a bad situation, so he drags some innocent person along with him. They did nothing wrong to him, but that doesn't matter. He's in pain, so the only way out of that pain is to get someone to fall in love with him. All to a screenplay with bad dialogue and written like a horrid soap opera romance.
I hope when I say that Brock Turner would love this movie, that this is all you need to read in order to make up your mind about seeing this movie.
FINAL GRADE: D-