REVIEW: Story Twist In ‘Passengers’ Causes Space Romance To Crash

“Passengers” could have been a good movie, but a lot went wrong here.

In “Passengers,” Chris Pratt plays the character Jim Preston, an engineer and mechanic who’s taking a voyage on the space ship Avalon. The craft, filled with 5,259 people, isn’t making just a day trip, though, as its entire journey from Earth to a new colony is 120 years long. Everyone on the ship are in a state of hibernation, but unfortunately, Jim’s sleeping chamber malfunctions and he wakes up 90 years early.

As a result of this, Jim tries to fix his pod to get back to sleep, but it proves unsuccessful and his efforts to contact any of the crew, also in hibernation, prove futile. His crisis is only deepened by the intense loneliness he feels as the months aboard the ship drag on. That is until he comes in contact with another passenger, Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) through a series of events.

Normally, spoilers try to get shoved to the side in any review, but a reveal of an event in the film’s first act is necessary to dig into the issues with this picture. So, here we go. In “Passengers,” Jim makes the decision to wake up Aurora from her hibernation, but makes her think it was simply a technical malfunction.

What follows is a story built on a romance that’s creepy, misogynistic and carries a lot of stalker-vibes. What’s worse is that as the movie goes on and after some shake ups in their relationship, the movie still tries to prop Jim up as a good natured protagonist and attempts to woo audiences into finding his actions, and the romance overall, endearing.

This simply doesn’t work, as any scene involving these two characters continually has the backdrop of Jim waking Aurora up because he was lonely/horny.

This whole aspect might have been able to work if the film took the time to thoroughly explore Jim’s choice and follow how it progresses through the years. However, “Passengers” doesn’t offer this. Instead, the movie’s second half is just a predictable, lazy action type finale. Think of your typical, ‘cut the red wire or blue wire’ race against time scenario, but on a spaceship.

As a result of the picture’s seeming avoidance to tackle the difficult subject matter presented, “Passengers” merely just floats by making no impact. It’s made worse that the script is entirely weak, with a plethora of cheesy, predictable lines and poor dialogue.

Another issue “Passengers” faces is a complete lack in internal consistency. To put it simply, the way the ship functions doesn’t make much sense. For example, there’s a bartender robot that looks human, but none of the other waiter robots look human.

Plus, there are robot restaurant waiters and bartenders, but no robots who are on the ship for maintenance, repairs, security or even to provide medical care. The only answer to questions raised by these issues is that no problems ever occur on the ship regularly, but it feels like a weak cop out.

Subsequently, all of these flaws do damage to the performances given by Pratt and Lawrence. Both are talented on screen, but they’re hindered by the script and how the story develops.

“Passengers” squanders both the talent of its performers and a sci-fi story that could have explored serious subjects such as morality. In the end, all that’s really there is a predictable romance built on an awful choice. 1 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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