‘Passengers’ takes a nose dive

Andrew Shermoen

“Passengers” is probably one of the most difficult movies of the year to review. It isn’t a complex movie by any means, utilizing a fairly common arc structure found in romantic comedies but adding a science-fiction flair to it. “Passengers” is unique in the sense that a couple brought together by a fatal flaw in their relationship is placed in the unique backdrop of isolation on a spacecraft. The film is packed with stylized beauty, charismatic and loveable performances, but its story features a betrayal so disgusting and saddening that the rest of the film feels unbelievable.

The starship Avalon is traveling through the cosmos to a planet named Homestead II. The ship carries passengers to this new planet after Earth has become overpopulated. The trip to this new planet takes over a century, so passengers and crew are placed in a long-term sleep that keeps them healthy and youthful. When Jim Preston’s (Chris Pratt) sleep-pod malfunctions he realizes that he will never make it to his new home and that he will be alone the entire trip. Soon he discovers a young woman named Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) asleep in her pod. In an act of desperation he forces her pod to malfunction and lies about it. The two find they have much in common and a blossoming romance soon begins. The treachery hiding beneath their love will certainly dire consequences for them both.

The charisma between Pratt and Lawrence is fantastic in this movie. Both of their characters exude charm due to their wonderful and funny performances. The characters certainly don’t feel unique compared to other roles the two actors have played, but the film proves that they share the screen perfectly. Lawrence’s portrayal of Aurora transforms a damsel in distress into a strong and multi-faceted character. Sadly, that emotional and witty character is thrown out the window to further the plot surrounding her love of Jim Preston. Pratt is his usual wise-cracking and funny self but there is a broken spirit to the character of Preston that Pratt has never really captured before. Despite how absolutely pathetic his character is and that his act of forcing Aurora out of stasis is irredeemable, he still comes across as funny and charming because of Pratt’s style.

Still, Pratt’s performance is not enough to forgive Jim of his actions. One can see how Jim’s loneliness was so overpowering that he would do something so horrid to Aurora, but it doesn’t excuse his behavior. The film goes to great lengths to prove that Jim is forgivable and selfless, but it’s hard to find a moment to forgive him after what he’s done to her. We’re supposed to assume that the love between Jim and Aurora is pure and beautiful, but its inception came from a cruel act at the hand of a selfish person. The film dances on ideas that what Jim did was wrong, but he’s always supposed to be a hero. Never a cruel anti-hero who did a bad thing, but someone to be pitied.

Because of this, the film feels tonally flawed. While the charisma between its main duo is wonderful and the sleek design of the Avalon is beautiful, but the tone of the film is structured poorly and it is hard to promote a film with a central love-story this disfigured. Let’s hope that Lawrence and Pratt can appear in a movie more suited to their talents and their chemistry soon enough.

Rating: 2/5 stars