Film reviews

#597 – Passengers (2016)

Passengers (2016)

Film review #597

Director: Morten Tyldum

SYNOPSIS: A Spaceship transporting colonists to a new planet is thirty years into it’s journey when Jim Preston is suddenly awakened from cryo sleep unexpectedly. being the only person woken up, and with ninety years to go until the voyage is complete, Jim spends a year alone, unable to return to sleep, until he, in desperation, releases another person, Aurora Lane, for companionship. However, the malfunction that woke Jim up threatens to extend to the entire ship, and the pair must work out what the problem is in order to save the lives of everyone aboard still in stasis…

THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Passengers is a 2016 sci-fi romance film. Set onboard a spaceship that is carrying its passengers and crew in cryogenic sleep on a one hundred and twenty year journey to a new planet. Thirty years into the journey, Jim Preston, a passenger, is suddenly awakened from sleep unexpectedly due to a malfunction. Unable to return to sleep or to wake anyone else up, he spends over a year by himself (apart from a robotic bartender for company), eventually becoming more and more depressed and desperate from company. In desperation, he wakes up another passenger, Aurora Lane, a writer who he has been learning about, lying about the fact that he woke her up and blaming on a malfunction instead. The story is focused on a romance story rather than anything else, offering very little novelty with the science-fiction element. The stand-out dilemma in this is clearly that Jim’s decision to wake up Aurora essentially condemns her to spend her life alone with him, without her consent. The film takes great steps to try and show both the desperation that Jim has for company, and the acknowledgement that what he is doing is wrong, but you can never shake the feeling that what Jim did was ultimately wrong. When the film tries to tie things up neatly with regards to the romance or just overlook that dilemma, it certainly lingers in your mind as a viewer when the film tries to move on.

Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence turn in good performances in the lead roles, and the supporting roles of Martin Sheen and Laurence Fishburne also play their parts well. This is almost certainly one of those films that avoids going too hard on the science-fiction element, in fear of alienating the romance audience. Passengers really seems averse to explaining anything: the fact that the malfunction just so happens to wake up one ordinary person, then later wakes up a senior officer is all very convenient, and we don’t really get a sense of what is going on other than “things are broke, we need to fix them.” Critic’s response to the film blasted it for this lack of depth, but audience reception seems to be more favourable, as they were quite content with the simple story. I think that sums up the film fairly well: lacking in depth and nothing overly special, but easy to watch and mildly entertaining, even if predictable.