A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early.
ActorsStarring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy García, Aurora Perrineau, Kimberly Battista, Jamie Soricelli, Julee Cerda, Shelby Taylor Mullins, Marie Burke, Kristin Brock, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Kevin Tan, Robert Larriviere, Jeff Olsen, Ana Gray, Stephen M. LaBar Jr., Conor Brophy, Kelli Pardo, Barbara Jones, Inder Kumar, Emma Clarke
A giant starship is on a century-long journey to a recently colonised planet, carrying five thousand colonists plus crew in suspended animation. The ship is highly advanced and is self-repairing and self navigating, so no human crew are required; this ship’s complement will be woken when the ship nears its destination. The film opens when one of them, an engineer called Jim (Chris Pratt) is awakened from his sleep, and quickly discovers that he is not only the only one awake but that there are still ninety years left in the journey. Needless to say, this is unwelcome news. The ship itself offers plenty of diversions – it is designed as a kind of futuristic cruise ship, so there are restaurants with automated waiters, various forms of entertainment and even a swimming pool with a view out over the stars.
Jim’s only company is an android barman, who is programmed to respond to his conversation. As time passes Jim comes to realise that he will die alone on the ship unless he can awaken someone. The crew are all cordoned off in a secure area, but other passengers are not. However if he wakes someone then it is essentially a death sentence for him or her too. Amongst the other passengers he discovers the young, beautiful writer Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence), who would surely make an admirable “desert island” companion, but an unwitting one who would be condemned to growing old aboard the ship and dying before it arrives at the colony. Will he have the moral courage to grow old on his own, or doom another to share his fate? If he awakens Aurora, will he tell her what really happened or pretend that she awoke due to a malfunction?
Passengers is at its best when it deals with this kind of moral dilemma. There is a point at which it veers off this track into a more conventional action/peril situation, and here it just descends into formulaic Hollywood heroics. This is a pity since the acting is quite good and the premise intriguing. There is enough going on in the movie to redeem it, and the special effects are impressive – the ship would certainly be a diverting place to live out one’s life. It is just a pity that that the filmmakers felt the need to bolt on an unnecessary story – the classic sci-fi “Silent Running”, for example, did not require such an action sequence and was a fine movie.