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Of all the films that were released in 2016, I don’t know if there was another that I felt boasted more promise than PASSENGERS. The sci-fi thriller was lead by two of the most charming and likable stars that Hollywood had to offer, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The effects presented in the trailer appeared to be outstanding, and the minimalist cast seemed to be the perfect opportunity to allow the talents of its leads to shine.

For a while, PASSENGERS was every bit the movie that I had hoped it would be. Pratt plays Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer who is on his way to an Earth-like colony located millions of miles from our home planet. The journey was to take 120 years, but when an asteroid damages the ship, Jim awakens from his slumber. He soon discovers that, not only did he wake up 9 decades too soon, but out of the hundreds of other passengers on board, he is the only one to be bestowed this devastating honor.

Jim does his best to make the most of precarious predicatment. He learns the ins and outs of the ship, and takes advantage of it’s many amenities (video games, space walks, and a fully stocked bar) but it isn’t long before these distractions begin to lose their luster. Determined to develop a solution to his plight, he attempts to repair his sleeping pod. Despite finding the user manual, and discoveringa vast cache of tools and resources at his disposal, it is impossible for the chamber to be fixed. In a final attempt to achieve salvation, he tirelessly attempts to pry his way into the ship’s bridge. Unfortunately, no method of entry, no matter how drastic or violent, is successful. Without a pass code, there is no  way to the access the quarters.

After a year of isolation with only a robotic bartender (Michael Sheen) to keep him company, Jim’s soul crushing loneliness overtakes him. He is on the verge of committing suicide when he sees fellow passenger Aurora Lane (Lawrence) sleeping in her pod. Jim begins to watch entries that she has created on a video profile, and although she is unconsious, he soon falls in love. Her exubrerent personality, penchant for humor, and zest for life is infectious, and he begins to wrestle with the morality of altering her pod  in an attempt to wake her up early. Consumed by the thought of spending the rest of his life alone in the far reaches of space, he ultimately decides to terminate her slumber.

PASSENGERS is lead by two of the most charming and likable stars that Hollywood had to offer, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt even the likability of its leads can’t save it from a hollow and lifeless conclusion.

The first two acts of PASSENGERS are fantastic. Pratt commands the screen in his extensive solo existence, providing plenty of laughs and entertainment. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Production design, and this honor was fully deserved. The vast expanse of the ship provides endless opportunities for top-notch visual delights, and director Morten Tyldum’s vision allows the ship itself to become a character in its own right. Once Aurora awakens, the dynamic between the two leads is every bit as cohesive as the audience could hope. They are both intellegent, personable, and attractive, and their courtship exudes an air of genuineness. Although Aurora believes that her sleeping pod malfunctioned just as Jim’s had, the audience’s knowledge of this unforgivable deception provides an engaging undercurrent of drama and suspense.

Serving as a sad metaphor for film itself, PASSENGERS begins to fall apart as the ship begins to do the same. The asteroid that caused Jim to awaken starts to cause further catastrophic damage to the vessel, and it becomes apparent that the craft will soon to lose all functionality, resulting in the deaths of everyone on board. Luckily, these damages result in Chief Deck Officer Gus’ (Laurence Fishburne) awakening, and he enlists Jim and Aurora with the seemingly impossible task of repairing the ship. Luckily, and comically conveniently, Jim’s background in mechanical engineering provides the glimmer of hope needed for the ship’s salvation.

As entertaining as PASSENGERS had been up until this point, the absurdity of its final act completely overshadows all of the endearing moments that had proceeded it. Dissolving in a muddled-mess of sci-fi and action movie cliches, it skyrockets towards a realm of absurdity and dissolves into a multitude of unintended laughs. Scenes that are meant to be suspenseful and intense induce far more eye-rolls than chills, and even the likability of its leads can’t save PASSENGERS from a hollow and lifeless conclusion.

Passengers: C

The absurdity of PASSENGERS final act completely overshadows all of the endearing moments that had proceeded it. Dissolving in a muddled-mess of sci-fi and action movie cliches.

Brian Miller
Film Critic
Based out of Central New York, Brian Miller is a film critic who works in television, radio, and print. Providing passionate and energetic takes on every movie he sees, he looks for the best in a movie, not the worst.