Passengers  follows the misfortune of two strangers Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) who are passengers on a ship headed towards the planet Homestead II. They awake from what is supposed to be a 120-year hibernation only to realize that they have been awoken too early and the remaining 5,000 passengers will not be joining them for another 90 years. In this science fiction adventure, the two must decipher what went wrong as they continue to hurtle through space.
Chris Pratt & J-Law. Upon watching the trailer for this film, I questioned the pairing of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence as a convincing couple. Surprisingly Pratt’s performance is impressive and in some ways trumps Lawrence’s. Their chemistry on screen is sexy and fun. Unfortunately, cheesy dialogue repeatedly broke my interest in the two’s relationship and my investment in their collective narrative. Jennifer Lawrence plays, well, Jennifer Lawrence. We watch her character struggle with the notion that she may never become a successful writer like her late father. Aurora Lane, I assume her namesake is a reference to Sleeping Beauty, isn’t a likable character for me. I didn’t feel like I wanted to be on her team and as much as I want to love J-Law her work continues to disappoint.
Robots are dumb. The robots in Passengers have some great quirks and personalities, adding to the spaceship’s futuristic believability and ‘wow factor’. There are some great gags with AI on the starship Avalon that compliment both Pratt and Lawrence’s performances. As much as the robots in Passengers are intelligent the audience is encouraged to see the pitfalls of artificial intelligence as Jim and Aurora attempt human interaction and problem-solving through the technologies’ interfaces. I couldn’t help but laugh on numerous occasions as I was reminded of the classic Siri battle “Sorry, I didn’t quite get that”. In a time of crisis, Jim and Aurora are confronted with the perils of modern technology and begin to question their roles both as passengers and human beings.
The World. From the opening scene, we are enticed into the sleek and sexy world of the Starship Avalon. Its appeal becomes apparent for all those wondering why on earth (see what I did there?) you’d want to travel through space for 120 years, leaving your family and friends behind. In moments throughout the film, there is a brilliant unsettling quality as we are lead through the rooms of a semi-dormant spaceship. Passengers has a genuine eeriness about it, leading the audience to fill the passenger’s shoes and ponder what it would feel like to be stranded in space.
Stakes. Throughout 2016 I struggled to find a film that I became genuinely invested in. Passengers had me on the edge of my seat and in the last half hour, I realized I had been holding my own face in a state of anxiety. The stakes of the film are high and would be further amplified sans some cringe-worthy writing.