Director: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt and others
Rating: * * *
It is given that if a man and a woman are trapped in a confined space, seemingly with no escape, they have to be young and good-looking; they also have to fall in love. That’s what makes people buy tickets to the multiplex.
Morten Tyldum’s unimaginatively titled Passengers is set on a space-ship—a love story-cum-sci-fi adventure on stunningly sleek sets.
A corporate spaceship, Avalon, is on its way to another planet where the passengers on board will inhabit a colony called Homestead II and escape from “overpopulated, overpriced and overrated” Earth. The 200 odd crew members and 5000 passengers are put into a state of hibernation, so when they wake up 120 years later, they will be as they were when they volunteered to go.
But two of the passengers wake up 90 years too early - Jim Preston (Pratt), a mechanical engineer looking for a fresh start and Aurora Lane (Lawrence), a journalist who wants to write a book. The two are in luxurious surroundings with everything they need to live well. When there’s just an android bartender named Arthur (Martin Sheen) around, what could two young and sexy people do but “date” each other. There are cute and charming scenes between them (with some nods to Titanic), though it’s shocking how he deliberately wakes her up to keep him company after he is accidentally jostled awake in his hibernation pod with a meteor hit.
After the love story comes the disaster part, because where else could the script go after their relationship is established?
Passengers is pleasant enough for a while, though Matt Damon had managed to make this stranded in space idea work much better in The Martian. There is also the constantly niggling feeling that Jim is a stalker and a loser, and he does not deserve to be made into a hero to whom the girl says, “If you die, I die.” Anyway, stars like these two, can make any movie an audience magnet.