At a time when the biggest gripes about trailers usually involve them giving away too much of the plot, it’s kind of funny that the uproar surrounding Passengers centres on what wasn’t revealed in the promos.
To be fair, though, the critics who have slammed the movie on the basis of the misleading trailers are right to be angry: as well being deceptive, it also poses a quandary about how much to reveal of the plot as the key twist comes about a third of the way through the movie: so be warned, then, there are spoilers ahead.
A giant spacecraft traveling transporting 5,000 people to a distant new colony planet is hit by an unexpected meteor storm which results in one of the passengers, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), being reawakened from hibernation 90 years too early. Unable to get into the crew’s quarters or contact Earth, and with only a cyborg barman (Michael Sheen) for company, Jim begins to lose it and his thoughts turn to the unthinkable: perhaps he should reawaken one of the other passengers…
Of course, if you have seen the trailer, you will know writer Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) also finds herself awake way too soon and once she has recovered from the shock of her equipment “malfunction”, she and Jim attempt to make the best of their circumstances. However, they eventually discover that they face a much bigger challenge ahead.
Much of the criticism of Passengers has rightly zeroed in on the creepy basis of Jim and Aurora’s relationship, although the uncertainty of tone is the film’s chief flaw. Director Morten Tyldum never seems sure if he is making a romance, a Castaway-style drama or a sci-fi disaster flick, and in the end he is found wanting on all counts. However, that might not be entirely his fault: the fact that Andy Garcia makes an unspoken appearance in the final scenes suggests that this is a film that has undergone some significant reshoots and/or re-editing.
On the plus side, the design is terrific and the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence is so appealing that you are tempted to overlook the clunky storytelling and execution. Ultimately, though, this first-time pairing of two of Hollywood’s most likable young stars has to go down as a missed opportunity.
In cinemas: January 1, 2017
Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Laurence Fishburne
Directed by: Morten Tyldum