I'm a sucker for everything Science Fiction. I guess there is no single thing a film maker can put in his movie that makes we more likely to go to the theatre than a spaceship. Which unfortunately means, I get occasionally tricked into seeing boring stuff because the trailer looked so cool. Which brings me to Passengers.
So, apparently the screenplay for this film has been written in 2007 by a guy named Jon Spaiths. But somehow it got never made, even though Keanu Reeves and Emily Blunt were attached to the project at some point. Maybe not surprising, the guy has a screenwriter credit on Prometheus. Which sucked.
So, finally they got the project off the ground. The final film is directed by Morten Tyldum, a Norwegian director whose first big budget film was The Imitation Game, the Alan Turing film from two years ago. I found that one to be quite ok. The big hook of the film is of course its star power. Christ Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are both huge at the moment, and Lawrence apparently makes at least 20 million dollars for this film.
All three of them do a fine job. The film looks great and is shot very competently, with nice, but not outstanding, cinematography. I really dig the overall production design, and the space ship on which the film is set looks amazingly slick
Lawrance and Pratt give very good performances. The script does not give them very memorable things to do, but they both make the best of it. Also, it's nice to see Jennifer Lawrence be less bored as in the X-Men films.
Where the films fails for me is the script. I guess it's finally time to discuss the plot. The basic premise is that Pratt's and Lawrence's characters, Jim and Aurora. are passengers on a spaceship on their way to colonize a distant planet. To that end, they are supposed to spent 120 years in cryogenic sleep, along with 4998 other passengers and a couple of hundred crew. However, Jim makes up after only about 30 years when his cryo pod malfunctions. He quickly realizes that he is doomed to live out his days alone on a luxurious cruise ship in space. The only conversations he can have are with a robot-butler, in a way reminiscent of The Shining.
The film has a few interesting things to play with now. There is of course the theme of loneliness and desperation, and there are elements of Cast Away in space to be found. For a while the film explores to what extreme decisions you can be driven under such circumstances. This all breaks down once Aurora comes into play, who wakes up about a year after Jim. From this point onwards, the film looses focus and plays as a nice, but completely predictable and ultimately rather boring love story with the added complication of a more and more failing space ship. The latter could be interesting, but all problems are solved way to quickly and almost never result in any real tension. There are some bold choices that the film makes about aforementioned extreme decision, and for a while it looks like the movie is remarkable consistent in resulting in real consequences. But then the space ship has to be fixed, dramatic stuff happens, and all is well afterwards.
Not a bad film, but it never develops it's interesting premise into real ideas and remains kind of meh on the intellectual level. But it looks very nice, features some good performances, and in constrast to many other big budget film these days the plot mostly makes sense. Which shouldn't be a big deal, but I watched Suicide Squad on the plane a couple of days ago and now I am happy for any competently made film I can get my hands on.