Watched: 22 August
It seems that audiences and critics alike found certain elements of this sci-fi story problematic, most notably when Chris Pratt’s space traveller – having spent a year wandering around a slumbering spaceship after his stasis chamber malfunctions, waking him early so that he faces much of the vehicle’s journey (and the rest of his life) alone – decides to do a terrible thing and wakes up a fellow passenger that he fancies, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Or, rather, people had problems with the way that Pratt’s character is subsequently forgiven for what is essentially an act of slow murder, let off the hook by the script, which works ridiculously hard to try to paint this selfish, lying cockwomble as a selfless hero for the next hour or so.
In actual fact, the few fleeting moments of interest generated by this film arrive when the male lead – an actor of limited ability who gets by on charisma – behaves abhorrently, and duplicitously; you briefly get the sense that somewhere, buried within an otherwise boring screenplay, is an intriguing Hitchcock-in-space romantic thriller. But no, Passengers completelty bottles it and swiftly becomes a rote romance involving two big box office draws at their absolute blandest, which is unfortunate given that away from the main characters it’s also a stultifyingly ‘clean’ sci-fi with little in the way of truly memorable effects or production design. The screenplay does briefly touch on issues of class: there’s a plot device here in which a hierarchy that exists on board the spaceship allows privileged guests access to certain lifestyle products or areas; and indeed the passengers on board are already an elite bunch anyway, making their way to a distant colony of Earth because our own planet has apparently turned into some kind of unliveable shithole (by the very same people who are leaving, presumably). Sadly nothing much is made of this, either, and it’s all but forgotten about once romance blossoms between the stranded couple. There are too many disappointments and cop-outs here, and as a result it’s eminently forgettable, tepid pap. (*½)