HOLLYWOOD—“Passengers” was touted as a major awards contender nearly a year ago once it became apparent the flick would star Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence and the next big Hollywood star Chris Pratt. With Morten Tyldum, who recently earned an Oscar-nomination for Best Director for his work on “The Imitation Game,” what could go wrong?
Well, quite a bit people. The biggest problem with “Passengers” is the narrative which seems more far-fetched and odd than words can explain. While the sci-fi element and visual effects are immersive, it’s a tough act to follow when you compare it to flicks like “Gravity,” “The Martian” and other galactic successes. The narrative for “Passengers” follows the Avalon, a ship that is transporting a few thousand colonists to the planet Homestead II that will take over 120 years to complete.
In the mist of that process, a glitch transpires which leads to engineer Jim Preston (Pratt) being awoken from his hibernation pod, 90 years early. What the previews for the flick do well is present the allusion that both Jim and his love interest Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) awaken at the same time, but that is not the case people. Jim who finds himself isolated for nearly a year, with his only companionship being a robot named Arthur (Michael Sheen), decides to wake up Aurora Lane.
“Passengers,” at times feels more like a morality tale, than an actual sci-fi adventure. Jim grapples with rather he is being selfish, while Aurora comes to terms that death is inevitable. In the process, Jim and Aurora become lovers and the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence is indeed electric. It’s no secret why these two were cast to star in the flick, because the chemistry allows the audience to connect with the two characters. Unfortunately, that chemistry can’t save the film’s narrative which seems convoluted to a degree. At rare occasions I felt the script was hoping to capture those suspense filled moments that “Gravity” delivered on multiple occasions, but fails to accomplish.
Watching “Passengers” gave me the impression that the filmmakers hoped that by just throwing two major stars in a flick and crossing their fingers that the narrative would work its way out and be overlooked by moviegoers. Not the case people. It’s a struggle to stay invested in the narrative as the movie progresses.
Lawrence, who is an Oscar-winning actress, does the best she can to help carry the movie, but it feels her talents are wasted here. Pratt provides comedy and charm, but that as well, does not help with a movie that just seems silly at times. The biggest misconception is that “Passengers” is this sci-fi epic that will deliver plenty of thrills and excitement to audiences. The best thing about the flick is the chemistry between the co-stars, but this is no epic love saga that will be remembered years from now.