“Passengers”: A Well-Acted Snoozer

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“Passengers” is directed by Morten Tyldum and stars Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.  The film is about two people who are woken up 90 years too early on their space expedition from Earth to a new planet, and the two must figure out why they woke up and what to do in order to save the expedition.

The two leads made me excited for this film just by themselves, as they are two of the most entertaining faces in Hollywood today.  Couple that along with Morten Tyldum, the director of 2014’s “The Imitation Game” and a premise that sounds intriguing enough, and I was definitely coming in with high hopes for this movie.

The Good

Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are both very good as the two who have to carry almost the entire film on their shoulders.  Pratt specifically impressed me, as he was able to bring some of his goofy comedy into this film, but he also had to bring emotion and some brutal conflict, and I thought he handled it all very well and was the best part of the film.  Lawrence was also great, as she was able to have good chemistry with Pratt, as well as being able to stand out on her own when needed.

While Pratt and Lawrence were the stars, Michael Sheen as the robotic bartender, Arthur, may have been my favorite part of the movie.  Sheen brings some added life to a film that often felt barren without him, and the conversations that he has with Pratt are some of the highlights of the movie.

Visually, “Passengers” is very nice looking, with all the effects working well and the inside of the ship being aesthetically pleasing.  The best part of this film was surprisingly the opening half hour, as it feels the most realistic given the situation, and also brings the most entertainment and tension in the whole movie.  This is surprising when you see the film, as the opening half hour has something considerably different in it, but I will avoid spoilers and leave that broad, but for me, I think there were a lot of intelligent ideas to start, and they almost all fell apart as the movie progressed.

The Bad

The biggest problem that “Passengers” suffers from is how booooooooooring it becomes so quickly after the opening.  There are reasons for this, but how I see it is that the movie becomes way too tied up in this romance story, and it forgets about all the much cooler science elements that are taking place here.  This may have been Tyldum’s intention from the beginning, but the film was marketed as a sci-fi thriller with some romantic elements thrown in and not the other way around, and it led me to become very disappointed with “Passengers” rather early on.

A romance can work, and the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence is mostly there, but the movie just feels like it’s running in place throughout its entire middle portion, with very little happening at all to move the storyline along.  Then, when they’re running out of screentime to make anything happen, the final act is way too overcrowded with material that it all feels muddled and confusing.  There ends up being a third human involved in the plot, and it was a breath of fresh air when that person gets here, but they use this person for such a minuscule time it is almost like giving someone a present and taking it away once they opened it.

The science in this movie, regardless if this is the future or not, doesn’t make much sense to me, especially when things become discovered during the final act.  I just do not believe that the problem they discover works as it does in here, as well as the ridiculous solution, and it just made me roll my eyes and hope for the end credits.

Conclusion

“Passengers” is well acted and visually pleasing, but falters in its storytelling and lack of sense towards the concluding moments.  I just could not get on board with a romance story that is not as interesting as it wants to be after a while, and that may solely be a personal preference.  I think this could have been a much better movie than it is if Morten Tyldum approached the story from a unique perspective instead of playing it relatively safe.  “Passengers” isn’t a terrible film, but it is terribly disappointing, as most of its runtime is spent boring me to death instead of intriguing me, even with some real solid acting performances mixed in.

Badge-4.5

Get tickets and showtimes for “Passengers” here

What did you think of “Passengers”?  Comment below with your thoughts.


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