What’s 90 years destined to die alone when you have a space yacht, virtual reality dance battles, a sage British robot bartender and cosmic bungee jumping all to yourself?
The mightily dumb “Passengers” was touted as a sexy slick star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as two literally star-crossed lovers awoken from hypersleep who form a romance while saving their vessel from peril. So it’s not as if we should’ve expected some thoughtful, existential story, but we’re left with the idea that eternity isn’t so bad when you have some pretty views, good food and a buddy to share it with.
Critics chided Pratt’s character for “gaslighting” Jennifer Lawrence into thinking she had been accidentally awoken from hypersleep when in actuality, he woke her up after spending a year on the ship alone. Not only is that probably a stretch of that term, but plenty of other rom-coms and love stories are built on premises far more tasteless, mean-spirited and stupid than this.
No, the real problem of “Passengers” is how it tries to shoehorn in an action movie into the romance. The closing half hour or so is beyond absurd, a litany of out-of-nowhere mishaps and Lawrence hysterically shouting about having to close some hatch or replace some onboard computer. It’s an unfortunate drain to a movie already struggling to find the chemistry between its hot young leads. “Passengers” leans on being an expensive color and lights show, with the wonders of the ship’s special effects subbing in for more playful banter between the two. And Lawrence’s portrayal as a journalist with ambitions of traveling 120 years through space and time just for a story are laughable. Someone should tell her about how two centuries of history might impact print media.