If you’ve ever watched Castaway and thought, this would be so much better on a cruise-ship in space, then you’re in luck. Passengers is a futuristic love story taking place on a space ship carrying 5000 passengers which is travelling from Earth to colonize a new planet. As the journey takes 120 years, all passengers and crew are asleep in supposedly fail-safe hibernation pods, in a state of suspended animation. Jim’s (Chris Pratt’s) pod malfunctions, causing him to wake up with 90 years left of the journey, with no one for company except a robot bartender, played charmingly by Michael Sheen.
The audience is immersed into Pratt’s panic of total isolation, akin to the sense of dread you get as a child when you lose your mum in the supermarket, but on an extreme level. He makes the controversial and selfish decision, of waking up Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence), condemning them both to the fate of never reaching their destination. Their on-screen chemistry brings forth a heart-warming romance, however this is tainted by Jim’s dishonesty; he doesn’t reveal that he is responsible for her awakening. Jennifer Lawrence excellently portrays the hurt of the deception and the mourning of the future she can never have, your heart aches for her.
The plot is very simple and predictable, and the special effects are pretty minimal for a sci-fi movie. Jim and Aurora are forced to save the ship from destruction, so it’s quite convenient they woke up really! Despite its simplicity, it does provoke some profound thoughts and discussion, such as what makes life worth living? Would you choose to live in solitude for your entire life, or would you wake someone else for companionship, effectively ending their life? Michael Sheen’s character says himself “these are not robot questions”, and so the audience in left to ponder, what it is we need to satisfy our human needs.
Mildly entertaining and quite underwhelming, this sci-fi blockbuster is saved only by the acting ability of the small, talented cast. Plus Chris Pratt’s biceps. ★ ★ ★
First published in Marketplace Magazine, Bourne.