Review: ‘Passengers’ Is Visually Appealing, but Lacks Gravitational Pull
What are the odds of two beautiful people finding each other on the planet – or better yet in space. It’s a scenario that can easily happen in the movies and does just that in Passengers. All that’s needed in the world of this orbiting Utopia is a suspension of realism and two attractive actors who’ve never looked better to distract you from the implausible plot.
Chris Pratt — looking very buff — stars as Jim Preston, one of 5,000 passengers aboard the Starship Avalon forging ahead in its 120-year voyage to colonize a new world called Holmstead 2.
The problem is Preston’s hibernation chamber malfunctions and he wakes up too soon – 90 years to be exact – making him the only human being who is awake on the spacecraft.
We are treated to not one, but two butt shots – in the shower and roaming the passageways naked as he tries to get used to his lonely fate. He is virtually solo except for an android bartender Arthur playfully executed by Martin Sheen. Arthur floats from one end of the bar to the other dispensing lots of alcohol and pithy free advice. What he has to say is more interesting than the mortals on board.
Preston — who is a mechanical wiz — busies himself around the ship, but all the good stuff dispenses digitally — like a mocha cappuccino is reserved for elite passengers only. Taking Arthur’s advice to “live a little,” he tinkers with the controls upgrading his working class status from steerage to the beautiful Vienna Suite in first class.
Almost a year goes by when Pratt, sporting a sexy five o’clock shadow, lets his looks go with a very unattractive snarly beard. You secretly hope Preston finds a mate soon so you don’t have to watch the rest of the film looking at Grizzly Adams. Thankfully, he is taken with the sleeping beauty journalist Aurora Lane played by Jennifer Lawrence — who’s also fit as can be. He gets to know her by watching her video interviews. When he can no longer bare the isolation, he shaves off his rat nest — making him look presentable again — and rigs the pod to awaken her.
This gorgeous couple lost in space begin a courtship spending their days doing digital dance-offs and nights using Lane’s gold class status to feast on sushi and be wined and dined by French accented waiter robots. Lane shows off her lithe figure in a stunning white-meshed bathing suit as she swims daily in the opulent pool that looks out onto the galaxy.
Their sci-fi love story blooms of course, marking Lawrence’s first on-screen sex scene. She also labored with kissing the married Pratt, who is married to Anna Faris. She told The Hollywood Reporter, “It was going to be my first time kissing a married man, and guilt is the worst feeling in your stomach. So I called my mom, and I was like, ‘Will you just tell me it’s OK?’ It was just very vulnerable. That was the most vulnerable I’ve ever been.”
Pratt and Lawrence, both proven to be solid actors, are felled by such silly lines as, “We’re looking for something big, something broken,” when the ship begins to malfunction. This movie makes you yearn for a substantial space fantasy like 2001: A Space Odyssey. We may have come far with visual technology and the design of Passengers is appealing to look at, but it severely lacks a gravitational pull.