Quite a bit predictable the movie Passengers is, the heavily promoted com-in-space starring two leads in Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. Its basic foundation would seem to have been stimulated by Douglas Adams: definitely, the giant Golgafrincham ark from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, which is carrying huge numbers of people to colonize other planets. In Passengers, it is a sleek spacecraft called the Avalon, which is ferrying thousands to a new life, all in hibernation: the fully automated ship is designed to deal with meteor showers, asteroid storms, and the like.
It's a extremely eerie start, and while Lawrence and Pratt undeniably possess the magic spark of on-screen chemistry, the basic weirdness of this anti-meet-cute quenches what the film-makers seemingly are hoping is a warm fuzzy glow of spiky, sparky collaboration. Stalking tactics bolstering romantic comedies are by no means new, and over the decades, film-makers have proved adept at somehow planning down real-world nastiness, but here it's gruesomely inescapable. Of course, it leads to complications later for Dunn and Preston (no script could hope to blank it out completely), but so intent is Passengers on forging cosmic levels of romance that it tidies up the disagreeableness and bends it under the carpet as quickly as possible.
"Passengers" Is The Story Of A Guy Lonely In Space
Passengers has another softness: not so serious perhaps, but not helpful. Even if its chronicle was just as unbelievable as Passengers', Gravity showed how it was possible to suggest honest physical jeopardy in a space bound setting. Passengers' preoccupation with its romcom chops means that, despite all the fancy electronics and stark discreet design, actual peril is in short supply. Even the showpiece scene where Lawrence was engulfed by swimming pool water after the shipboard gravity fails is a nicely realized idea, but never at all is Dunn's emergence from the water, hair somewhat ruffled, ever in doubt.
On the optimistic side, Lawrence's outwardly boundless screen magnetism lives pretty much complete: she is an obviously vivid presence here in a way that few current actors can match. Pratt is a less glowing presence but offers a natural politeness that counterbalances the stalker-creepiness. But neither can do much with that momentous of the initial premise: it means that Passengers, regrettably, has suffered permanent damage to its own engine casing.