Passengers: Respecting Our Own Mortality

The Starship Avalon is on a one hundred and twenty-year voyage across the vast blackness of space to a distant colony world called “Homestead II.” This ship holds over five thousand people, including the crew, in its sleep chambers. One day, they malfunction. As a result, two of the hibernation pods and its contents are awoke. Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Dunn (Jennifer Lawrence) are stranded alone on a spaceship, still ninety years from their brave new world.

The Avalon is as luxurious as the Titanic whilst having a basketball court, the best food (if you paid for it) and a free bar. Also, a dancefloor where our starlord has a great dance off scene. The bar is handled by a seemingly trustworthy android named Arthur (Michael Sheen). As far as chick flicks go, this is one of the only good ones. It’a a glorified chick flick set in space and I enjoyed it. The movie is visually stunning and pushes along nicely, yet the screenplay is predictable with characters that really lack depth and mystery.

Chris Pratt plays engineer Jim Preston in Passengers
(Passengers, Columbia Pictures)

The first half of the film is better than the second half. The former was a serious science fiction drama but the second half had many of the elements of a corny romantic comedy/chick flick. Things like that irritate me because I fear the writiers couldn’t decide whether they were making a science fiction movie or a romcom set in space. One of the plus sides is that Passengers shows us the moral ambiguities of human nature and what we will do when pushed to breaking point. It blurs the lines of right and wrong but also good and evil. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference. We can do the wrong thing even if we intended it for the right reasons.

The best thing to do is to go in without any high expectations. I’m a fan of both Chris Pratt (Guardians Of The Galaxy) and Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men: Apocalypse) but I’ve also become a fan of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) in recent years. Their performances are really good, even if the script was much to be desired. Seeing Sheen as Arthur highlighted the fact that even as an android, he was more honest than most human beings. He doesn’t have choice, but we do. We have a choice whether to deceive or tell the truth. Often, we choose the latter. Passengers highlights the deep flaws in our species to a great degree as well as allowing audiences to fully respect their own mortality. It’s a sad prospect but one we must all accept.

Jennifer Lawrence plays writer and journalist Aurora Dunn in Passengers
(Passengers, Columbia Pictures)

There is much to enjoy with Passengers, including: great performances, excellent effects and a good musical score. It’s a mostly engaging feature if you don’t expect too much. After all, it’s made to entertain and not to win Oscars.