I was biased going into Passengers. I had watched the trailer a few months ago and was wholly unimpressed with how much it gave away. Come last week, I watched a few reviews of the movie and my suspicions were confirmed.
My mother, however, wanted to see the movie. We were supposed to see La La Land, but due to the chaos of winter break crossed with “Reel Tuesday,” we had no choice but to see Passengers. I wasn’t happy.
What I liked:
I really liked the backstory of the movie. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are two of 5000 people traveling to an Earth colony planet called “Homestead II.” Similar to Wall-E, the spaceship they are on was built by a huge company, but this ship sort of has a class system where your ticket means a cheaper breakfast or luxury room. The first third of the movie is where Passengers really shines. It’s Pratt alone in isolation – Castaway in space as a lot of people are putting it.
I got this weird Home Alone sensation because at first Pratt is concerned and scared being awake so early, but then he gets into the hijinks of being alone in a huge flying hotel. He upgrades his living quarters, he eats at all the fancy resturants – just general screwing around.
I would have really enjoyed a movie of just Pratt living the rest of his life in isolation. It would have been so interesting to see little vignettes of his life as he aged. There is a scene where he sits next to Lawrence’s hibernation pod and kind of talks to her. Similar to this tumblr post, I think this sentiment could have been expended on further.
I also liked the set design. It was very modern and sleek, but also recognizable. It reminded me of a shopping mall and a cruise; perfect considering the setting is a giant cruiseline space ship.
Pratt acted well in the first third, but I find he became lackluster with Lawrence’s appearance.
What I disliked:
Passengers suffers from Liar Reveal – a commonplace plot line that’s been incredibly overused at this point in film history. But because it’s so telegraphed, I didn’t mind it too much.
It’s unfair to say I disliked Lawrence’s character because I don’t like her as an actress, but I certainly feel like she was miscast. In the sense that they cast Lawrence because of her name and not what she could have brought. I feel like a lot of actresses could have played this role equally or better. Lawrence was competent. I didn’t like her little freak outs though, I got sick of that back in The Hunger Games trilogy.
I didn’t like how average this film was. Passengers doesn’t tread any new ground, which is why it’s predictable. There were a lot of moments when I thought “if only they did X, it would have been so much better.”
The worst culprit of this issue was at the climax.
Spoilers Ahead: Pratt must exit the ship to open a hatch and release the heat of the ship’s nuclear reactor core. In doing so, he’ll likely die. Lawrence is very upset over this, as expected. A back and forth occurs between the two under a pseudo time limit. This entire scene I had the perfect line in my head, and they never approached it in the dialogue. It was such an obvious choice, but who knows how Hollywood works.
In this dramatic moment, Pratt is arguing that by not opening the hatch, everyone on board the ship will die. Lawrence, being the love interest that she’s written as, says something like “I don’t care about that! If you die, I die!”
I really hope I’m not the only person who rolled their eyes at this line.
I can’t remember Pratt’s exact reply to her plea, but in my opinion, the best, most obvious line would have been:
“Don’t be selfish like I was.”
That would have been perfect. Pratt’s character would have had some meaningful development, it would have been an impactful line that would contextualize their isolation, and it would help the audience be slightly more sympathetic to Pratt (because let’s be honest, he’s kind of a creep).
Passengers is worth one watch. Personally, I don’t think there’s much to find in a second viewing. For goodness sake, the trailer is basically the whole movie! The first third is entertaining, but not enough to warrant the rest of the film.
The best way to enjoy Passengers is to wait till it’s on streaming services, watch until Lawrence is revived and then jump to Wikipedia to read the rest of the plot.
FINAL VERDICT: Stream