‘Passengers’, for those of you who don’t know, is a romance posing as a science fiction film, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, and unfortunately falls into the category of films-I-wanted-to-love-but-just-couldn’t.
While the cast is of fairly good renown, the score (by Thomas Newman) appropriately atmospheric and the cosmic scenery positively breathtaking, the films fails in its initial goal to make the viewer care about the two bland main characters and the incidents that befall them.
In a world that seems to be concerned with sustaining the human race but for some reason values writers over engineers, the slow build-up of events can be appreciated. As a ploy to keep one watching, the overall plot-line is continually hinted at in ways that suggest something more serious is at play, while the human drama takes the spotlight.
The main plot-points which take the primary focus, however, are predictable and generally overused in modern cinema as it is, though not to say unrealistic, unfortunately. These personable moments are not badly acted, per se, except how foreseeable they are makes it difficult to see anything other than two actors reading from a script that’s already been written and performed a hundred times before. Though the instance in which one character comes close to killing the other was thoroughly unexpected and, therefore, appreciated.
My one real point of praise for the narrative as a whole falls to the two minor characters, Arthur and Gus Mancuso, portrayed by Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne, respectively. The introduction of the latter alone, over two-thirds of the way through the film, was so unanticipated and delivered in such an exceptionally humorous way that it elicited relieved laughter from much of the cinema audience, including myself. Although it was only a cameo role, his character made a distinct impression and gladly shifted the definitive plot-line into the foreground.
Overall, ‘Passengers’ is a fairly well-made film that does virtually nothing to differentiate itself from other works of the same sub-genres and ultimately failed to make me care about anyone except the robot – my apologies, android – and Gus.