Two space colonists are woken far too soon during their journey to a new home world in Passengers.
In the distant future, a space-based cruise line carries thousands of passengers and crew across the galaxy to a new world that they’ll colonize on arrival. Everyone aboard is in a medically induced deep sleep designed to keep them alive and young during the ship’s 120-year journey. They’re all scheduled to wake up a few months out from their destination in time to prepare for their next great adventure.
Two of the passengers, blue-collar mechanic Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and dreamy writer Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), emerge from their slumber to discover that they’ve mysteriously awoken 90 years too soon. With everyone else asleep and no way to reach out for help, the pair quickly realizes that they may very well live out the remainder of their days alone on a desolate metal island, far from the shores of their new home.
This is the latest film from director Morten Tyldum, whose previous work includes 2014’s Oscar winner The Imitation Game and one of my all-time favorites, 2011’s Headhunters. Unfortunately for Tyldum, the script is the creation of Jon Spaihts, the writer responsible for the ludicrous plot of 2012’s Prometheus. The intervening years apparently taught Spaihts nothing about scope or believability.
The initial sequences are the type to which you can’t help but be drawn. It evokes the best parts of The Martian. Everything looks fascinating. We want to know how it all works, how everyone came to be there and what sort of life they have in front of them. Then we get the explanation. Imagine if The Wizard of Oz just transported Dorothy’s house to the next town over where everyone wears slightly different hats. It’s then that we realize that we’re only going to see another marginally entertaining story about beautiful people having beautiful sex and solving complex problems with a flick of their beautiful wrists. This is the perfect film for people disinterested in plot challenges of any type.
The picturesque leads are essentially playing Adam and Eve for nerdy pubescent teens. I’m pretty sure that the producers pegged Pratt purely for the subliminal implications of his past work in Jurassic World. If that character could train dinosaurs, this one can certainly fix interstellar starships with a pair of pliers and a bit of good old-fashioned pluck. Lawrence is on board almost entirely to enthrall us with her reliably-revealing wardrobe. I’m frankly shocked that Spaihts didn’t think to have everyone go into stasis naked because, you know, naked.
Just when you think it can’t get any more ridiculous, Laurence Fishburne‘s character shows up at the most convenient time with the most convenient plot device possible. Go figure, right?
This is a one-way ticket on the space equivalent of the Titanic. It’s a pretty ship with a destination to nowhere.