Passengers – REVIEW

Red alert on the Avalon for Jim (CHRIS PRATT) and Aurora (JENNIFER LAWRENCE) in Columbia Pictures' PASSENGERS.

We had a quick straw poll of things that carry passengers and we came up with Trains, Planes and Automobiles ( good title for a film) – but we also came up with AnyGood Films? as we’re carrying the Editor (You’re fired!- Ed). In this week’s new release the passengers are being carried by a huge luxury spaceship including Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence all in hibernation as they are on a 120 year trip to another planet to start a new life. All is well until an electrical glitch wakes up Chris Pratt 90 years too early and he wanders round the ship in awe until he realises the error and panic sets in as he desperately tries to get himself back into hibernation but to no avail. The realisation that he is doomed, condemned to wander the ship with unkempt hair and a big bushy beard looking like Jim Carrey dressed as Robinson Crusoe with his only companion being  a robot bartender played by Michael Sheen, who is wasted in yet another supporting role. Sheen is a great actor which his TV work is testament to but when it comes to feature films he has picked some roles presumably because they came with a huge pay cheque – otherwise there seems no reason why he would have appeared in forgettable roles in forgotten films such as ‘Tron:Legacy’ instead of sticking with great roles in good films like ‘The Damned United’ and ‘Frost/Nixon’.

Pratt however is the lead and whereas his ability to play comedy is very much to the fore in his recent films he doesn’t have much to work with here and when Lawrence wakes from her hibernation the film changes tack from being a slight almost existential meditation on the human condition to become a space romance. The two leads are the only characters in the film really and, even though they are fleetingly joined by Laurence Fishburne, whose role is there mainly to facilitate some exposition as to what’s happened, the film relies on the pairs chemistry which is not as sparkling as you would hope from two A listers.

The law of rom-coms means their relationship comes to an end after a revelation and it’s from here that the film starts to mash it all up becoming part thriller, part action, part disaster film as they attempt to save the ship and its dormant passengers.

With beautiful though sterile production values and the ubiquitous state of the art CGI (there’s a  stunning gravity free swimming pool  sequence) are balanced by the beautiful though sterile leads whose chemistry doesn’t seem to generate as much emotion for them as you might hope. Written by Jon Spaights, whose original script for ‘Prometheus’ is excellent ( find it online) until the studio lost confidence and watered it down, has made a bit of a mash up of styles which has some very good moments but doesn’t really capitalise on Pratts’ comic talents and Lawrence spends a significant amount of time in skimpy low cut tops or swimming. At $120m it’s an expensive film for  director Morten Tyldum to have made. His previous films have included the cracking Scandanavian thriller ‘Headunters’ as well as ‘The Imitation Game’ but this is a huge leap in budget which he handles well but ultimately it’s the stars who are the draw here and whereas Lawrence has handled this type of role before and Pratt is likeable enough they don’t spark the screen as you might wish.

Here’s the trailer…….


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here