The fun in science fiction films is guessing if the predicted future will happen. While previous entries have failed miserably – no flying cars by 2015 as shown in ‘Back to the Future 2’ – others have come remarkably close. That adds a layer of enjoyment in any movie in this genre having unlimited story scope. ‘Passengers’ picks up on this with a futuristic tale typically loaded with dazzling CGI. More substantial than most, it bravely makes its own predictions of a future current viewers will likely never appreciate.
Thousands of colonists are on the starship, Avalon, journeying towards a new planet. Taking 120 years to reach its destination, its inhabitants are placed in suspended hibernation until its completion. One of the passengers, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), is mysteriously woken 90 years too early. After some time wandering the ship alone, he meets Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence), also woken from sleep. Aurora joins Jim in searching for answers as they grapple with the loneliness deep space offers.
‘Passengers’ is an odd concoction of styles. Whilst the performances of Pratt and Lawrence are first rate with some incredible CGI, the story’s main focus leaves a lot to be desired. To say anymore would be unfair, although it alters your perception of events. This makes for uncomfortable viewing in a film slowly sinking in a quagmire of story styles. Not knowing if it’s a thriller, romance, drama or comedy, the mix of genre staples never fully gels.
What it lacks in focus, it almost makes up for with its leads. ‘Passengers’ thrives on the acting skills of Pratt and Lawrence who give it their all. Their character’s actions are easily understood as they are grounded in believability. Although sounding absurd in a sci-fi film set centuries in the future, viewers would never be able to invest in such a fanciful tale if not for the strength of performances. The sense of isolation and loneliness is keenly felt via their roles with plenty of opportunities for the leads to fully shine.
Despite its pacing and script issues, ‘Passengers’ captivates until its final frame. It’s a thought-provoking piece on the nature of love and overcoming emotional hardships. It may not be remembered like other sci-fi films but ‘Passengers’ offers some intriguing glimpses of a future our descendants may endure.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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