Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen
Director: Morten Tyldum
Running Time: 116 mins
Passengers is an American film about two people on board a spaceship travelling to a new colony world who are woken from their hibernation 90 years too soon.
This is a pretty entertaining film. Whilst it’s not the work of genius that it sometimes thinks of itself, it’s a hugely fun sci-fi adventure with some fascinating nuggets of drama thrown in here and there. Its two lead performances are great, and it’s a beautiful-looking film when it comes to the special effects and production design, but it’s never quite as engrossing or convincing as it needs to be to make for a truly captivating watch.
Let’s start on the bright side, with the film’s best quality of all: the visuals. Combining stunning CGI that places you firmly in deep space and real-life sets that bring this interstellar cruise liner to life brilliantly, Passengers is a fantastically good-looking film, and one that really works on the big screen. Its bright, futuristic and slick visual style definitely brings a Star Trek-like quality of entertainment to proceedings, and does a lot to make the story’s setting very convincing.
It’s also a very well-acted film. Chris Pratt is dynamite in the lead role, and works well with Jennifer Lawrence. Pratt manages to bring both blockbuster humour and impressive dramatic depth to his character, and although Lawrence isn’t always quite as good, occasionally straying into extreme over-acting, she does make an excellent counterpart to Pratt.
Given that the majority of the film is just these two on an empty spaceship, they do a great job to hold your attention on their characters throughout, whilst a few humorous interjections from Michael Sheen as an android barman give the film a little more entertaining flavour.
The one thing that I really didn’t expect from this film was some of its dramatic depth. Whilst the majority of the story is quite a simple blockbuster affair, there are some brilliant moments of drama and intrigue from time to time, particularly in the film’s first act, centring on a fascinating moral dilemma to do with isolation, something that had me gripped whenever it was the main focus.
However, for all that, I can’t say that Passengers is a brilliant film. Save for that small line of drama, there’s not much else about the story here that’s particularly riveting. Generally predictable and simple, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat rooting for the lead characters to get out of their situation alive, and although the film throws in a few surprises in its final act, they’re generally far too silly and preposterous to add anything else to the story.
Another slightly stranger issue comes in the form of its score. Strangely, the fact is that the music here is too good for the film it’s in. A brilliantly original and powerful score, I loved the music throughout, but it feels completely out of place in what is a far simpler blockbuster, to the extent that I found myself distracted by a brilliant score that was sometimes far more interesting than the story at hand.
Overall, Passengers is a lot of fun to watch. A shiny, futuristic and entertaining sci-fi blockbuster with some interesting ideas from time to time, as well as strong lead performances and visuals, there’s a lot to like, although its plot is sometimes beyond the realms of even sci-fi, and its score feels incredibly out of place, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.