It’s a modern-day Titanic.
Two strangers meet en route to a new place where they can start over and fall for each other just as the same time they realize their romance is short-lived.
Morten Tyldum’s Passengers is a story of love and survival; a you-and-me-against-the-world (in this case, literally the entire galaxy) romance that transcends time and space. It’s a glimpse of what life could be like in the near future and regardless of how ambitious the plot is, it’s something that’s not too hard to believe and relate to.
A group of humans are on an interplanetary journey to Homestead II, a new planet where mankind can start a new life, aboard the Avalon, which is basically an enormous 5-star luxury space ship. Unfortunately, mechanical problems caused mechanical engineer Jim Preston’s (Chris Pratt) sleeping pod to malfunction and wake him up prematurely. He soon discovers he’s alone–except for a bartender droid, Arthur (Michael Sheen)–in the massive ship.
As luxurious as Avalon was–he enjoys the perks equivalent to a 5-star hotel–it feels like a death sentence because there’s no way Jim can go back to sleep, which means he’s dead even before the journey is completed. Jim is joined by writer Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) a year later when her sleeping pod was activated. Even with the looming disaster that faces them, the two try to live the high life and enjoy Avalon. But the imminent danger catches up with both when the massive spaceship experiences multiple engine failures and turned it literally to a sinking ship in space.
With only their wits and desire to survive, the pair works on their personal issues and try to save Avalon (and its thousands of other passengers), even putting their own lives at risk.
Jon Spaihts’ script accurately depicted the probable events if we do have an Avalon in the near future. While this is a sci-fi movie, it feels more like a love story, a survival tale. Tyldum was able to show how anyone of us is most likely to respond to a situation like that in outer space and I liked the fact that he spent a significant amount of time in showing that in the film.
Some may say that the first part is dragging because it just showed Jim and Aurora going through a routine aboard the spaceship but it perfectly described how life would be for someone’s who doomed to a life sentence millions of miles away from home.
It’s also necessary to push the characters’ motivations to the next level especially when their survival is hanging on the line.
Passengers did a lot of things right from the depiction of what life aboard the Avalon is like to the development of Pratt’s and Lawrence’s characters. Well they really didn’t get a dramatic transformation; their characters are still a little two dimensional but the actors were notable in their performances. Lawrence outshone Pratt, as expected, because her character had to undergo more trauma and she portrayed the part well.
Production design was, obviously, excellent. The visual effects are impressive. There’s this one scene where Aurora was swimming and then the ship lost gravity for a few minutes. It was thrilling, engaging, and scary.
A lot has been said about Passengers that are not too good but to me, it was evocative. And amidst all the explosions and running for survival in the film, you’ll find yourself asking what you’re willing to do in a situation like it and if you’re able to live with the consequences of your actions (and inactions).
Passengers, being a sci-fi film and all, will get you to tap into that primal moral code and think hard.