Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Prime Quick Cuts :: Amazon Digital Rental :: Hitching a Ride with Morten Tyldum's Sci-Fi Thriller Rom-Com, Passengers (2016)

On a self-automated luxury space-cruiser, due to some technical glitch thanks to a stray asteroid, one of the passengers is woken up from stasis 90 years too early, which sets the stage for Morten Tyldum’s Passengers (2016). Essentially stuck on the Space Love Boat all by himself -- well, except for the 4,999 other passengers and crew still in stasis for the 220-year journey to a new Earth colony -- until he dies, with communications impossible due to the interstellar distance, Jim Preston (Pratt) makes the best of this dire situation the best he can by exploiting the amenities of the ship, including his only companion, an android bartender named Arthur (Sheen).

But this all eventually wears thin, and after nearly a year passes, the loneliness and isolation finds our hero thinking about doing something rather rash. But then, when he decides to not kill himself, Preston next contemplates doing something even worse...

You know, Passengers sort of came and went with little fanfare, lost a bit in the wash of Rogue One (2016), which was released just a week earlier. I didn't really hear anything good about it, but I didn't really hear anything bad either. (P'rolly not helped by a bait and switch trailer that sold it as a horror/thriller, which it definitely is not.) Now, having finally seen it, I'm a little baffled that it didn't do better than it did as I found it to be highly enjoyable in spite of the predictability of the plot and the prickly moral ambiguity of the main character's motivation.

But! SPOILERS AHOY! Perhaps that might be the film's biggest problem in that Passengers has nothing whatsoever up its sleeve and is very straight forward once Preston decides to wake up another passenger, Aurora Lane (Lawrence), for some company; a decision not taken lightly, but in the end, having gone a little crazy, he cannot help himself. From there, they fall in love, and the audience waits until she inevitably finds out the truth that it wasn't a similar technical glitch that woke her early, too, followed by the hateful breakup and spiteful shunning, and then the equally inevitable third act crisis (-- the cascading system failures on the ship that are about to reach critical mass), where they must work together, get over the hump, find forgiveness, save the ship, and live happily ever after together on the Avalon.

So, yeah. No surprises here, but I was kinda OK with that. Others, apparently not. Helping out is some beautiful production design and endearing performances by Pratt and Lawrence. And I, for one, was kinda grateful for the lack of a twist or sabotage. (I kept waiting for the reveal that Aurora wasn’t the first person he’d woken up and the rest had either killed themselves or met with an “accident”. Or, worse yet, the rest of the crew wakes up and won't believe Preston that the ship is about to self-destruct and its up to Aurora to spring him from the brig to save the day.) The ship was broken, and just needed to be fixed. Simple. Straight forward. And I liked it a lot.

Passengers (2017) Columbia Pictures :: LStar Capital :: Village Roadshow Pictures :: Original Film Company Films :: Start Motion Pictures :: Wanda Pictures / EP: Greg Basser, Bruce Berman, Ben Browning, David Householter, Jon Spaihts, Lynwood Spinks, Ben Waisbren / P: Michael Maher, Ori Marmur, Neal H. Moritz, Stephen Hamel / CP: Greg Baxter / D: Morten Tyldum / W: Jon Spaihts / C: Rodrigo Prieto / E: Maryann Brandon / M: Thomas Newman / S: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia

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