[REVIEW] Passengers (or how to make 2/3 of a decent movie)
"Official" Synopsis: Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in an exciting action-thriller about two passengers who are on a 120-year journey to another planet when their hibernation pods wake them 90 years too early. Jim and Aurora are forced to unravel the mystery behind the malfunction as the ship, The Avalon, teeters on the brink of collapse, with the lives of thousands of passengers in jeopardy. (via Rotten Tomatoes)
Jim (played by Pratt) awakens 30 years into a 120-year space journey. He has no idea why this happened, or why no other travelers have been awoken. After spending a year by himself, trying to maintain his sanity by getting drunk and gabbing endlessly to the ship’s android bartender, Arthur (Michael Sheen), things are not going well. Due to his low-level security clearance, he cannot access the flight deck to find out what the hell happened to his pod. Worst of all, he has to eat the same shitty cereal every day because engineers are the “poor” people of the future. He is about to pull a suicide-by-space and shoot himself out the airlock; after he wimps out, Jim notices Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) in her pod.
He becomes infatuated with her. He watches all of her video logs and finds out she is a journalist. He then reads everything she has ever written. Amidst his loneliness, he contemplates waking Aurora up so she can hang out with him and like play DDR or whatever. He decides, “Fuck it,” and wakes her up, but lies and tells her that her pod malfunctioned like his did a year before.
Because they’re the only ones awake, and will likely die well before they reach Homestead II, Jim and Aurora start space banging and fall in love. That is, until Arthur reveals to Aurora that Jim woke her up on purpose (What a gossipy bitch that Arthur is!). Understandably, Aurora fucking HATES Jim for waking her up. As Aurora says, he basically took her life away. There’s even one scene where she beats the ever-living shit out of him while he’s asleep.
I want to note how impressive it is that the only two people awake are the most attractive people on the planet. I couldn’t imagine what the movie would be like if Laurence Fishburne had been the first one awake and not Chris Pratt. Oh! Laurence Fishburne is in this movie. Did I forget to mention that? It’s probably because he’s in it for like 5 minutes, then he dies of space AIDs. At least he was the Chief Deck Officer, had just enough life in him to be able to figure out the problems with the ship, explain it to Jim and Aurora, and give them his high-level security card. For someone who is destined to die alone on a ship, Jim sure catches a lot of lucky breaks.
Oh, and the big “mystery” as to why Jim is awakened in the first place? An asteroid. The trailer insinuates that something sinister is afoot: Perhaps a conspiracy by the company who owns the Avalon? Or the ship decided to go all HAL on everyone’s asses? No. Fuck no. The ship was just hit by a piece of an asteroid that punctured the hull and causes the ship’s reactor to overheat. The reactor can be kept from overloading and killing everyone ONLY if it is vented. Of course, the vent has to be opened from outside of the ship. This means that Jim has to sacrifice himself to save the ship and its 5,000 passengers. Except that Jim DOESN’T die. He miraculously lives being blown out into space because their medical Autodoc can cure death, apparently. He then tells Aurora that she can use the Autodoc as a makeshift pod and go back into hibernation. She decides that, though he didn’t actually sacrifice himself for anything, that it’s the thought that counts, and forgives him for being creepy AF and pretty much murdering her. They live out the rest of their lives on the ship, wasting all of the ship's resources so they can build a god damn tree house.
Also, Academy Award-nominated actor Andy Garcia is in the movie for literally 3 seconds. He has no lines and just stands there, with a beard.
Final verdict: Passengers is a prime example of when a movie trailer GROSSLY oversells the film behind it. We’ve seen this tactic before (I’m looking at you, Warner Bros. & every DC movie this year). Put some frantic music and breath-taking visuals into a minute and thirty-second clip, and you’ll have nerds frothing at the mouth. If, like me, you saw the Passengers trailer and thought, “It’s got our beloved Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in a sci-fi thriller that looks like Sunshine had a threesome with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Wall-E. Also, Michael Sheen is in it? I’M. SO. ON. BOARD.” With such a hot premise, the final results were as cold as Sheen’s lifeless, android eyes.
I didn’t hate this movie. Like your mom after she caught you sneaking Boone’s Farm out of the liquor cabinet: “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” Judging by the random scene cuts and hobbled-together third act, there had to have been a better-written movie in here somewhere. There were a lot of great ideas regarding what happens to the human mind in extended isolation, and teeters the line of what actions we could forgive of a protagonist, and Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt had legit chemistry. I loved Michael Sheen as the bartending android who doesn’t get sarcasm. I just can’t believe there would be such an intriguing build only to completely shit the bed and simultaneously undo all of the character development. Perhaps Columbia Pictures will release a “Director’s Cut” in a few months that makes this movie better. More likely, it will just be an extra 10 minutes of Chris Pratt getting drunk and playing DDR (still an upgrade IMO).
Rating: 2 out of 5 gratuitous close-ups of Chris Pratt’s tan ass.