Passengers, rated PG-13
Though mildly entertaining, and featuring some solid acting performances and visuals, Passengers doesn’t quite live up to the high expectations I had for this film. My recommendation is to save your money on seeing this film in the theatre, and wait for it to come out on video/streaming.
Passengers is directed by Oscar nominee (The Imitation Game) Morten Tyldum and written by Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange). It features star power in Oscar winner (Silver Linings Playbook) Jennifer Lawrence as the writer Aurora Lane and Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy) as the mechanical engineer Jim Preston. The film had an estimated budget of $110 million. Of that, Lawrence reportedly was paid $20 million and Pratt $12 million. However, reports were that reshoots for the film were scheduled as late as October, just two months before release, to correct story elements that were not working.
The film tells us about the Starship Avalon, which is transporting 5,259 people (5,000 passengers and 259 crew members), on a 120-year voyage from an overcrowded Earth to a distant planet known as the Homestead Colony. As the ship goes through a severe meteor shower just 30 years into the voyage, the ship is jarred and Preston’s hibernation pod is opened. (Note: the hibernation pods reminded me of those featured in the television series Wayward Pines). We see Jim awake, and slowly realize that something has gone terribly wrong. He is the only one on the ship who is awake, and he has awoken nearly 90 years too early. We can feel his utter loneliness and helplessness as he wanders around the ship and even outside of it for more than a year, at one point contemplating suicide, as he realizes he will not be alive when the ship reaches its destination. We see his appearance deteriorate. His only companion is Arthur, an android bartender, my favorite character in the film, played by Michael Sheen (The Queen).
Jim then notices the beautiful Aurora asleep in her pod. As he begins to find out more about her by watching her videos, he longs to spend time with her. He is so lonely that he contemplates waking her up. He knows exactly what that would mean to her, and he seriously battles with that moral dilemma. But then we see him give in to the loneliness, and make the decision to wake her up.
But Jim isn’t honest with Aurora about why she woke up. We see their relationship grow, inevitably leading to them having sex a few times. We also see them work together to address mechanical issues that arise on the ship. The only other human that wakes up is Gus Mancuso, Oscar nominee (What’s Love Got to Do With It) Lawrence Fishburne.
The film included some good, though not great visuals, especially the exterior views of the ship as it continued on its 120 year journey to the Homestead Colony. We saw the film in 3D, and though I didn’t feel it added much to the experience (except the additional $3 to the ticket price), there was one very impressive scene with a swimming pool when gravity was suspended.
The acting in the film was good. Pratt did an excellent job of portraying loneliness and hopelessness. It shows what Genesis 2:18 states “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Lawrence, already a four-time Oscar nominee at age 26, brought her usual strong performance. The film includes some nudity (Pratt, when he is alone on the ship), and some sexual content. There is minimal adult language included, which was refreshing for a PG-13 film. The film in addition to the themes of loneliness, helplessness and disappointment, also shows self-sacrifice, courage and love.