The Passenger is brought to us by unique genre film director Carter Smith. The film does what a road movie is supposed to do; it has your two leads navigate their anxieties and hurdles in their own lives. Only in The Passenger, it's more like a violent Hangout movie.
The Passenger kicks off following Randolph, played brilliantly by Johnny Berchtold.He seems repressed and on the verge of doing something harmful to himself. It's all over his face as he heads to work the open shift at a fast food place. He hates his life. A pushover bullied at work and borderline suicidal, trapped in his self-deprivation. But as he stands around with his ignorant coworkers mocking him, making him eat a day-old cheeseburger, another one of his coworkers, Benson (Kyle Gallner), walks out to his car and grabs a rifle. An event that sets off the rest of the film as Benson takes Randolph along; he seems like a prisoner at first, but the two begin an interesting connection.
The Passenger fills the rest of its runtime like a road movie from the 1970s.Benson is on edge and unpredictable, but soon, he dials it back for Randolph as the two spend the rest of this fateful day roaming around, airing out a lot of their grievances with society and diving deep into their trauma. The two are opposites; they have opposing views but never seem to clash until we get the ending. Parts of The Passenger can come off as unmotivated, and I admit it does feel like hanging out with these characters for ninety minutes.
Carter Smith does what he does best: he puts us, the viewers, in uncomfortable situations but makes it a point for you to get to know these people. None of his films, at least recently, go heavy with the plot. Instead, they tend to follow a dangerous path with the characters. The Passenger executes that well.