Director:Morten Tyldum (2017) BBFC cert: 12A
Hollywoods hottest stars make cosmic love in this glossy sci-fi mystery romance.
On paper this looks like a winner: Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are talented, attractive and likeable, with a strong record of blockbuster success. Director Morten Tyldum comes straight from the Oscar nominated hit, The Imitation Game (2014.)
The huge budget allows for top draw special effects. And in a change from cinemas littered with adaptations, reboots, sequels and remakes, Passengers has an original story.
A shame then, the film is such a morally dubious and often dull mess.
Pratt plays a mechanic called Jim, in suspended animation alongside 5000 others on an automated spaceship heading to colonise a new world. An asteroid storm causes his sleep pod to malfunction, and he awakes to find his journey still has about 90 years to go.
This opening is the strongest part of the film, and it’s no hardship spending time with Pratt as he explores the ship. There are some decent jokes here about corporate identity and status.
Jim spends a year slowly going stir crazy with only an android barman for company. It’s played by the brilliant, movie stealing talent of Michael Sheen. Wandering through the ship, Jim falls in love with Jennifer Lawrence’s sleeping beauty, called Aurora.
Cyberstalking Aurora by accessing the ships files, Jim also holds vigils next to her glass pod before deciding to wake her up, knowing she will not survive the voyage.
He blames the ship and the film refuses to condemn him for this selfish evil act, portraying it as an act of love. Then the script rewards Jim with some hot space nookie as she finds his goofy yet capable man-child irresistible. This is Stockholm syndrome in space.
Not that it excuses Jim’s behaviour, but Aurora turns out to be an irritating investigative journalist with daddy issues. She only really comes to life when she’s angry.
For the second week in a row following Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), the robot is the most sympathetic character.
The design and CGI are fabulous and there are interesting nods to Stanley Kubrick classics 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and The Shining (1980).
But the film abandons its early attempts at psychological horror to play the romcom card before becoming an action movie with some dull peril and explosions to bring the story to a close.
Being lost in space for ninety years together is the least this pair deserve. You have to feel sorry for the android though.