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Passengers is directed by Morten Tyldum from a screenplay written by Jon Spaihts. It’s a love story attempting to be an interstellar Titanic but fail to reach Titanic standard.
Besides, Passengers conveys the panic and despair of finding yourself trapped in a luxurious corporate prison in the middle of nowhere. Solitary confinement is solitary torture. The contrast between the chilly impersonality of the Avalon and the anguish of its human cargo lends the first half of the movie a desperate poignancy.
In Passengers movie, Aurora (Jenifer Lawrence) is an ambitious journalist aboard the Avalon, a commercial spacecraft making a historic 120-year voyage heading to a pioneer colony of overcrowded Earth called Homestead II. The spunky, whip-smart Aurora, who bought a round-trip ticket, hopes to write the first book about Homestead II upon her return to New York.
However, when Aurora is prematurely roused from a state of suspended animation, her hopes are dashed. The one awaking her is Jim (Chris Pratt), a hunky mechanical engineer who is jolted back to consciousness when an asteroid hits the Avalon and is aghast to find himself alone. Realizing that he is going to spend 90 years of solitude on the spacecraft, can’t return to his hibernation pod and will never be alive to reach the destination, he begins to fall apart.
Spotting the recumbent Aurora, radiant in her pod, he savors her beauty, admires her thumbnail biography and falls in love. Against his better moral judgment, he revives her. Once outside her pod, Aurora is devastated to learn that she will almost certainly die on the route to Homestead II. Jim and Aurora meet and soon embark on a romantic courtship and quickly fall in love.
Given their beauty, that may not sound bad until you consider their future in joint isolation with nothing to do but eat, drink, make love and play shadow games with holograms. Their romance abruptly ends when Arthur spills the beans to Aurora about Jim’s role in her awakening, and she explodes in a stunning fit of fury that brings the movie to dramatic high point.
That moment of truth also begins the movie’s retreat from the moral questions raised by Jim’s selfishly dragging Aurora into his personal hell. He may be handsome and charming and mechanically adept, but he’s rather dull and inarticulate with no defined personality. Aurora and Jim are the latest embodiments of Hollywood’s ever-evolving ideal of young lovers.
Things briefly improve when another accidentally reawakened passenger, Gus (Laurence Fishburne), appears, and helps the couple figure out what’s wrong with the ship. Since Fishburne’s character is dying, his appearance amounts to little more than an extended cameo. It seems the asteroid strike set off the Avalon’s slow breakdown, and it is up to Jim, with Aurora’s help, to set things right, save them, and in the process redeem himself in her eyes. In its haste to tie up loose ends as efficiently as possible, Passengers becomes a banal, formulaic pastiche of dozens of other like-minded space operas in which the human drama gives way to technological awe.