Spectra Film Review: PASSENGERS
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February 20, 2017
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On the surface, “Passengers” had all the buzz to be something worth talking about, A pair of A-list actors at the top of their careers, a director hot off a critical and awards darling, and a prime release date smack dab in the middle of December. The bottom line: “Passengers” is not good.
“Passengers” is one giant misstep after another, misfiring in any direction it can, without the clear logic or focus to fully comprehend just how stupid it truly is. Be warned, the next few paragraphs will have spoilers regarding the plot, but, if I’m being honest, as a critic it’s my job to inform you all of the loopholes, discrepancies, and misdirection a movie can lead you on to think.
Believe me, “Passengers” has plenty of that and more. So stop reading now if you are TRULY hellbent on seeing this huge debacle, but…trust me, you don’t, and once I explain what REALLY happens as opposed to what the trailers tell you, you might thank me.
Selling itself as a riff on ‘Adam and Eve in Space’ while taking a few nods from Matt Damon’s “The Martian” playbook, the main focus of “Passengers” starts with a CGI sequence that shows us a ship called the Avalon, and it has 5,000 souls onboard in deep hibernation. They are all making a 90 year trek to a new planet dubbed “Homestead II,” Sadly, not everything goes as plan when a hibernation pod breaks procedure, and accidentally lets loose a chiseled Chris Pratt playing a guy named Jim.
If you wondering why or how Jim woke up in the first place, the screenplay is very thin with it’s answers. By the time you do figure out what happened, none of it is interesting. A tonal balance that director, Morten Tyldum struggles with. Anyway, Jim wakes up 89 years too early from his pod, and thus begins the Tom Hanks-esq “Cast Away” type narrative that’s been done countless times before.
It’s not all bad though. Jim can have daily conversations with the local barkeep, a robot named Arthur (played delightfully by Martin Sheen). Yet, talking with robots, playing video games, and watching movies by yourself only goes so far. And this is where “Passengers” really delves into new territory, and brings forth the biggest question…how does Jennifer Lawrence tie into all of this?
Good question, well, she’s asleep. It’s been about one year now that Jim has been stranded on the ship. Alone. So what does he do? Well, he is in love, and she looks very attractive, so, naturally, he forces her out of hibernation, and life goes on. Her name is Aurora, which sounds like a character out of a video game.
The whole moral of the movie then becomes, “was his actions justifiable in anyway shape or form?” the answer is no. I know what you are thinking, “I thought the two woke up in the pods together?” I could understand how you could think that, but really Jim suddenly becomes the anti-hero and his actions make him very unredeemable. Basically, and there really is no other word for it, Jim is Aurora’s captor. It’s creepy, and because of it..nothing else in the movie really matters or make sense.
Lawrence is a gifted actress, but it’s hard for me to watch her go from playing strong characters, to being reverted to a journalist who has to be the damsel that asks questions like “What does that mean?!” After all, she is an Oscar winner, but I guess you need one dog on your resume, to make the good movies stand out.
Beside the whole moral dilemma about Pratt’s character, in a sense, taking the life of Lawrence’s character, I suppose there is some resemblance of a plot, but, to be honest, it’s not very compelling in the slightest. And the more I think about it, the angrier I become.
And if you really wrap your head around Lawrence’s character, you soon begin to realize how unimportant she is to the vitality of the plot. Because without Jim waking her up due to him being “lonely” than she wouldn’t exist. When in reality, the screenplay just should have had them both wake up, and problem solve together.
I will give credit though for Pratt and Lawrence doing the absolute best they could, and the two have terrific chemistry which almost makes for a believable romance in a very traditional sense. But it only get’s weigh down when you start to think about the poor traits which possess our supposed “hero.”
Hard to believe that such a trio of talented entertainers could be stuck with such a mediocre script, with characters that hardly ever make smart decisions that could better themselves. Granted, there are some good scenes layered throughout the movie, with small glimmers in between, to show us the caliber of which “Passengers” could have been. It’s almost ironic because just before the movie started, there was a fun little public service announcement from Chris Pratt stating how he appreciated me for going to the movies, as opposed to sitting at home and watching things on my iPhone. Well I must say, I think sitting at home and watching, literally, anything else, would have been a smarter investment. You should do the same. D