Passengers thinks it is (and is being marketed as) an epic love story in the Titanic mold. Two gorgeous young lovers from different socio-economic classes stranded upon a sinking vessel, and, just in case you weren’t already drawing a comparison, it even has a variation of the oh-so-romantic line “you jump, I jump” in the climactic finale. The film works as a futuristic sci-fi version of that premise, yet makes the pitiful mistake of throwing a disturbing twist in that story. Without revealing too much (yet), if you thought that the tale of Ma and Old Nick in Room was kind of sweet, but needed just a little less rape, then this is the film for you.
Passengers takes place sometime in the future aboard the space vessel Avalon, where 5000 paying patrons are emigrating to a new colony far away from Earth. Placed in pods and in a tranquil sleeping state, the travelers are slated to be woken up four months prior to landing and over 100 years following takeoff. However, the sleep pod of engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) malfunctions and awakens him 90 years too early, leaving him with only android/resident bartender Arthur (cheekily played by Michael Sheen) as company in a ballroom right out of The Shining (literally – right down to the exact carpeting).
After a year of all work and no (sexual) play make Jim a dull boy though, (SPOILERS AHEAD) so he awakens sleeping beauty Aurora (American sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence), all the while pretending that her pod had malfunctioned as well. If you’re perfectly fine with beefcake Pratt essentially taking away your free will and holding you captive for the rest of your life, as Lawrence’s character, saddled with a clear case of Stockholm Syndrome, turns out to be, then sure, Passengers is a serviceable fantasy romance.
The film does have Lawrence and Pratt’s lithe bodies and undeniable chemistry on full display, and Sheen is a delight, yet between Thomas Newman’s once again recycled tinkering of The Newsroom theme (Finding Dory‘s score was the most recent example), and, more importantly, the very troublesome main conceit of the plot, we recommend that you pass on Morten Tyldum’s Passengers.