the fresh films reviews

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Passengers (2016)

Morten Tyldum
Science Fiction
116 minutes
Neal H. Moritz
Stephen Hamel
Michael Maher
Ori Marmur
Jon Spaihts

Cast includes:

Aurora Lane Jennifer Lawrence
Jim Preston Chris Pratt
Arthur Michael Sheen
Chief Gus Mancuso Laurence Fishburne
Captain Norris Andy Garcia
Celeste Aurora Perrineau



This slick and extremely atmospheric sci-fi yarn is directed with more consideration for the filmatic and literary science fiction tradition, or should I say nostalgia, than for the heavy moral and existential questions the script raises. The plot: A starship headed for the earth-like planet Homestead II with 5,000 hibernated colonists from earth crashes into an asteroid field and suffers unknown damages that causes one of the hibernation pods to malfunction, waking up one of the passengers, mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) after only 30 years of the 120 year long journey. He can roam the premises and use the ship's facilities, including befriending the android bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen), but he cannot reactivate his pod, and he faces no other prospect than living out his life alone on the ship. That is, until he discovers a passenger named Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence).

During the first third of Passengers, our inevitable questions around Jim's situation are heard and treated with respect by the filmmakers; we get to experience his alternating loneliness, wonder, desperation, and small glimpses of hope as he works in high-gear to fully assess his situation and what he is able to do about it. The film portrays quite effectively how one would go through different phases of despair before finally coming to terms with one's destiny. And the starship Avalon is among the most attractive and best-established in movie history you really get the spatial feel of the ship. Unfortunately, Passengers gradually starts losing focus and finds itself Hollywoodized as Jim turns his attention to Aurora Lane. And don't get me wrong, this is not the Aurora character or Jennifer Lawrence's fault, but rather director Morten Tyldum's inability to keep his direction clean and unsullied by shortcuts and romanticized notions. The ethical dilemmas raised by the protagonists' choices are discussed and help keep the film constantly interesting, but they are eventually brushed aside by far too standardized hyperbole action which not only replaces, but also threatens to negate the far more interesting and authentic observational style established in the film's first part, effectively ruining any chance Passengers had of becoming a new modern classic. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence both do well with their parts when Tyldum lets them, but Lawrence's part is too restricted, and Pratt doesn't have the presence to single-handedly save the film from its partial self-destruction towards the end.

Copyright 5.2.2017 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang