The screenplay for Passengers has been sitting on the backburner for quite some time, having first appeared way back in 2007, and after seeing the production it was understandably not snapped up to direct and produce. Over the time it has taken to get distributed on general release Keanu Reeves, Reese Witherspoon, Rachel McAdams and Marc Forster, the director of Quantum of Solace, have been rumoured to be involved in the project at one time or another. Over the nine years there have been developments and amendments to the script, but I would not say enough to justify its release, and it certainly does nothing for the careers of those that eventually became attached, Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence and Norwegian director, Morten Tyldum.
The spaceship, Starship Avalon, in its 120-year voyage to a distant colony planet known as the “Homestead Colony” and transporting 5,259 people has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result one hibernation pod opens prematurely and the one person that awakes, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is stranded on the spaceship, still 90 years from his destination. The film begins reasonably enough with Chris Pratt awakening blearily from a cryogenic sleep chamber, at a pace that makes the viewer stick like glue with intrigue. Yet, in spite of the fact he’s unintentionally geared himself up for his own death sentence, Pratt inconceivably seems bored and irritated more than frantically trying to salvage life.
Clearly head-nodding at Kubrick’s The Shining, Pratt’s character, Jim Preston, befriends the robotic bartender (Michael Sheen) on The Avalon, reflecting on what he should do regarding his sudden encounter with Jennifer Lawrence’s character Aurora Lane and whether he can justify also setting her up for death, stirring her from the chamber. He practically becomes an unsettled futuristic stalker, as he plans this move, whilst eating alongside her cryogenically frozen body.
As he awakes her he is careful not to mention that it is his doing, obviously and they become inevitably close very quickly, until Sheen’s bartender snidely lets it be known that she was selfishly woken. A smarter movie would have plotted a more conceivable narrative with some honesty thrown into the mix. The fact that Lawrence seems to instantly fall for Pratt is bizarre despite the lack of living beings on The Avalon, and the acting from Pratt has elements of seediness about it, which sit nicely with any viewer.