- James Mottram
- 19 December 2016
Disappointing sci-fi romance from Morten Tyldum, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt
After the cerebral pleasures of Denis Villeneuve's Arrival comes this more prosaic sci-fi from The Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum – a high-concept love story that doesn't deliver on its early promise. It's set on the Starship Avalon, which is transporting 5,000 passengers in a state of suspended animation on a 120-year journey to Homestead II, a colonised planet where they are hoping to start new lives. After the ship malfunctions, the unthinkable happens: one of the hibernation pods opens.
Inside is mechanic Jim Preston (Chris Pratt). Realising he's the only one awake, and with just 30 years of the journey complete, Jim faces living the rest of his life without human company, with only the ship's android bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen) to confide in. Gradually losing his sanity (and growing the obligatory Robinson Crusoe beard), he comes close to suicide when another passenger, journalist Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), catches his eye.
As Aurora lays asleep in her pod, Jim begins to fantasise about her – and, after much deliberation, wakes her up. Aurora goes through the same emotions Jim did – despair, depression – before they inevitably fall for each other. But it's here that Passengers starts to unravel, coasting along on its stars' charms as it follows a series of predictable plot developments.
Pratt is as likeable as he always is, though Lawrence has less to do and seems to have been employed purely to put on a sexy swimsuit for scenes in the ship's infinity pool. True, the visuals are sleek and inventive, particularly when the craft loses its gravity for one stunning sequence. There's also a welcome appearance by Laurence Fishburne, who arrives late on. But Passengers never comes close to matching the emotional depth of the aforementioned Arrival. Rather like the Avalon, it's a surprisingly empty vessel – this is sci-fi without soul.
General release from Wed 21 Dec.