Passengers (2016)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

USA, 2016, , , , , , .  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Chris Pratt is on a spaceship holding hundreds of crew and thousands of passengers bound for Homestead II, a colonized planet that is among the many that exist as relief for overcrowded Earth.  Like all other humans on board, he has been in deep hypersleep to deal with the more than century of travel required to get to his destination, so he’s naturally a little dizzy when he wakes up in preparation for landing.  After a quick shower and a meal, he notices he’s the only person awake on the entire ship, and upon investigating further, comes upon a terrible truth:  his chamber malfunctioned and he was woken up ninety years early, which means he has no choice but to wait to grow old and die well before his fellow passengers reach their destination.  After more than a year alone, enjoying the free food and easy access to interactive games, Pratt is bored until he looks into a pod and spots a beautiful young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) whose file intrigues him even further.  He struggles with his morals for months before deciding that he can no longer be alone and must have her, so he hijacks her pod, wakes her up and lets her think that they’re in the same unfortunate boat.  After falling in love and spending months in connubial, solitary bliss, Lawrence finds out the horrid truth about what he has done and that she’s actually a captive on a ship and doomed to die with him as well.  What could be a probing, fascinating look at either the possessive instinct of the male sexual psyche or the oppressive undercurrent to the human desire for monogamy is shunted aside all too quickly in a badly plotted third act, one that reeks of studio interference, involving mechanical malfunctions that provide the excuse for action sequences and big explosions.  It’s a stunning film to look at and features a welcome appearance by Michael Sheen as an android bartender, but it quickly devolves into inexplicable nonsense that fails to distract you from the fact that it’s simply not dealing with the themes it has set up.  The actors don’t appear in the last scene and are replaced by a hastily uttered narration, which is proof of rewrite hell, as if a studio hoping for The Martian feared the movie was turning into Solaris and in their panic ended up with something that’s not even as good as Supernova.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Production Design; Best Original Score

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