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Review: Passengers

Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence star in Columbia Pictures' PASSENGERS

Much wasn’t known about Passengers before its release by anyone outside of the people who were directly involved with the film. Apparently, even the trailers gave up nothing. All we basically knew was that it was set in space and featured actors Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence as leads. What comes out of it once you sit down to watch it is actually something that presents things that we’re not really use to seeing these days in American cinema.

Due to circumstances unknown to them, Jim (Chris Pratt) and Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) find themselves in a weird place while on a voyage to another planet. Like everyone else on board, they were supposed to remain asleep in their hibernation pods for 120 years, but they happen to wake up about 90 years too early. With time not on their side, the two newly acquainted passengers find themselves in search of answers to why they’re awake and how they can reverse the situation that will prevent them from reaching their destination alive.

Passengers offers a lot in terms of story, but at the same time, it manages to remain on a very linear path through just about its entire duration. It’s primary concern is to engage with the thought of romance while also getting various reactions from the audience. When watching it, they clearly want you to laugh, empathize and maybe even shed a tear with the characters who are presented to us on-screen. Because of this, you end up knowing why they feel the way they do and why they do what they do.

It turns out that Passengers is a solid sci-fi movie, but the story that is included is more about the drama that an individual may have to go through while essentially being isolated. Sure, there is a significant chunk of action, but it’s not really much of a focal point. This is a tricky idea for cinema focusing on science fiction due to pictures from this genre usually being about action, adventure and going where we can only dream of going at this point in mankind’s history. That alone could scare some people off, but most of what’s here works.

Another thing that this doesn’t include are things like aliens. It’s not everyday that you see a science fiction movie in space not include aliens, but when it does happen, these pictures are more likely to be attempting high art over entertainment. That’s one of the features that makes Passengers unique. It’s not here to offer us the kind of stuff we have been fed for a while now. It’s clear purpose is to amuse while asking the audience to emotionally connect with the characters to some degree.

In order for it to work, getting actors who could carry a film as a duo was important. They’re going to be on the screen together, but they’re also going to be spending time separated from one another aboard a ship where everyone else is sound asleep. For that reason, bringing in actors like Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence proved to be smart. At least in terms of the public personas that they decide to present to the general public, these two appear to be likeable in the eyes of people who care about the personal lives of celebrities.

Plus, these two were able to build some seemingly authentic chemistry over the course of the movie. You know they’re both solid actors, but achieving that successfully isn’t always easy for even the best in the acting business. As we’re waiting and watching for everything to come together, we’re also watching their characters grow as they discover a vast universe and one another. As both of those aspects of the film develop, you begin to understand how the relationship between the two characters being portrayed becomes the driving force of the entire picture.

From the standpoint of pure entertainment, Passengers is a movie that hopes to bring something different from what is normally demanded of Hollywood these days. Attempting something like this is greatly appreciated for those of us who look to be engaged by more than the usual. If we allow it, Passengers gives us an opportunity to do that with its simplistic approach to dealing with complicated subjects.

Rating: PG-13

Director: Morten Tyldum

Chris Pratt
Jennifer Lawrence
Michael Sheen
Laurence Fishburne

Film Length: 111 minutes

Release Date: December 21, 2016

Distributor: Columbia Pictures

  • 7/10
    Score - 7/10
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