Passengers (2016): Destination Disappointment
The starship Avalon is on a 120-year mission, transporting 5000 people to a new colony on a planet called “Homestead Colony”. A malfunction prematurely opens one of the sleep chambers and as a result, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is awoken 90 years from his destination.
Alone, with no one but Arthur (Michael Sheen), the ship’s android bartender, Preston decides to awaken another passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). Realizing that they will not reach the Homestead Colony, Preston and Lane try to create a life for themselves aboard the Avalon. The ship begins to experience a series of malfunctions that threaten the lives of its 5000 inhabitants. Preston and Lane must pull together and do everything they can, to save the Avalon so that it reaches the Homestead Colony.
Passengers is an entertaining movie that has great visuals that merits a viewing on the big screen. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have a great chemistry together, but the film’s screenplay just seems to really miss the mark.
Passengers had some great opportunities to be an above average movie with a great cast and fantastic effects but instead it squanders the story line in favour of a love story. Not that there’s anything wrong with a love story, but it’s just that the film could have been so much more. The love story could have been the icing on the cake, so to speak.
I thought that the first missed opportunity with Passengers was when Pratt’s character, Preston prematurely awakens. There was an amazing opportunity to highlight the premise of his isolation. Instead, we get Pratts interpretation of Chuck Noland, Tom Hanks’ character in Cast Away. It could have been a great story of dread and loneliness.
Second, and in my opinion THE biggest failing in the film, is Preston’s decision to wake up another “passenger”. Essentially, Preston made the decision to condemn Lane to a lonely life and eventual death aboard this starship. There is a huge moral question that we, the audience, and Preston have to deal with yet it’s basically just wrapped up in a love story? Maybe it’s just me, but should the audience really just let that slide because our main character is in love? Come on, I know love conquers all but this is really pushing it. Besides it kind of felt like they were just trying to find a quick end to the movie.
I would have preferred that the film focused or explored more of Preston’s isolation and moral failing as opposed to watching Lane and Preston’s numerous dates on the ship.
Passengers tries hard to be meaningful, but it drops the ball on the hard-hitting questions and instead focussed in favour of a love story that conquers all.