Thanks to Roadshow Films we had the chance to see ‘Passengers’ before its cinematic release. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because there is no better critic than yourself!
Despite the allure of its superstar leads, director Morten Tyldum’s new sci-fi feature, Passengers, has little else to offer viewers. Everyman, Jim (Chris Pratt), wakes prematurely in his passenger pod on a spaceship owing to the craft’s mechanical failure. En route from Earth to a distant planet (Homestead II), the Avalon houses thousands of other passengers who are all suspended in time by a futuristic life-support system.
Over the course of a series of snoozy scenes that make The Martian seem even more intelligent and compelling by contrast, Jim endeavours to pass his long days and nights in the sterile environment (playing a video dance game, hitting the basketball court, growing a beard). He discovers a robotic bartender, played by Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, Midnight in Paris) in the Avalon’s bar, who eventually becomes his confidant. Paying obvious homage to Stanley Kubrick, the odd bar scenes are reminiscent of The Shining, while the overall mood, look, and sound have borrowed heavily from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Beyond that, the storyline is flimsy and there is little in the way of real entertainment.
In fact, the film’s premise is more than disturbing. Jim, who has woken 90 years ahead of schedule, nonetheless feels that his companionship requirements trump common decency. When he tires of his solitude and decides that he needs a mate, he selects an attractive female passenger (Jennifer Lawrence) to wake from her slumber. This lack of consent is a dangerous thematic line to be treading in 2017, surely, and there is no real atonement for Jim’s entitled behaviour.
Fans of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence will no doubt find them a pleasing pairing, though they are underused in this lacklustre effort. It’s depressing to see the usually excellent Laurence Fishburne phone in his performance as the ship’s chief deck officer, though he can hardly be blamed. Plot holes and ennui abound. Overall, Passengers is likely to leave a bad taste immediately after viewing and prove to be utterly forgettable thereafter.
Passengers is in cinemas now