Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
In previous Films, space has been proven to be a lonely place. But in Passengers it isn’t so lonely.
On a journey through space to get to the new planet, Homestead II, two passengers are awoken out of suspended animation. The only problem is that they woke up 90 years earlier then the rest of the passengers. As they spend more time with each other they are unable to hide their attraction and begin to fall in love. When the robots aboard the ship begin to crash Jim (Chris Pratt) and Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) learn there is something wrong with the ship. As the only two awake, they need to find and fix the malfunction with the ship in order to save the 5,000 sleeping passengers.
Passengers conceptually is good. It’s a Film about accepting where you are in the moment and not wishing for something other than the life you’ve been given. But rather, to make the most of the life you are stuck with. That way there will be no regrets. Yet, that message becomes hidden by Jim’s questionable behaviour. Without giving too much away, Jim becomes obsessed with Aurora before they ever meet. And it is through one decision that Jim makes that the Film somehow crumbles. The good intentions the Filmmakers had fade away because due to a chain of action which occur thereafter as a result of Jim’s unsettling obsession. This results in the Film becoming unintentionally humorous at points, which is unfortunate.
Jim is so unlikable as a character that not even the natural charm of Chris Pratt can save him. That doesn’t mean Pratt’s performance is in any way sub-par, in fact he makes Jim tolerable. It’s impossible however for the audience to sympathize with him after what his character does. Jennifer Lawrence is great and does what she can with the limits of the script but just like these characters, are lost in space. At times it seems as though Passengers itself is an experiment how far charm can go when an actor is made to do deplorable things.
Overall, Passengers is a Film that is enjoyable even if its warming holiday message is buried. Visually, it is carried by great special effects while its audience is engaged by the sheer charisma of its two leads and the curiosity of what will happen to them under dangerous circumstances.
Sony Pictures Canada release PASSENGERS Wednesday, December 21, 2016.