The film is set on a spaceship traveling to the planet Homestead II, and all the passengers on board are looking to start a new life on this newly colonised planet. The journey from Earth takes about 120 years, but an immaculate (seriously…not a hair out of place) Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) wakes up 30 years into the journey meaning that there are 90 years left. At first, Preston enjoys his freedom but the mental anguish of loneliness begins to set in and this drives Preston to the point of suicide. However, an immaculate (seriously…looking stunning…not a hair out of place) Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) soon wakes up and Preston is no longer alone. The pair get along splendidly but the ship begins to malfunction.
The best moments of the film are when Chris Pratt’s Preston wakes up to find himself totally alone on the ship with nobody for company apart from some robots, of whom are all of limited use. It’s like 28 Days Later (without the zombies) meets Silent Running where the central character wakes up to a deserted population hub. These moments are finest bits of the film as they do a good job at empathising Preston’s crippling loneliness and it goes the distance in explaining why he did what he did.
From the point Jennifer Lawrence’s Aurora Lane wakes up things steadily begin to go downhill. It’s not necessarily because Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence don’t share any good chemistry (which they do) its more because the longer the film goes on the more it becomes a bog-standard, generic Hollywood affair. With a predictable finale, completely adverse to risk, the film’s ability to maintain interest does begin to wane despite one or two impressive set pieces. The performances are perfectly fine, but it’s disappointing that the film takes an interesting premise down a typical route.
Still director Morten Tyldum (who last directed The Imitation Game) does a fine job at managing the film’s most elaborate set pieces (the zero gravity water sequences is terrific). The sleekly designed ship is well imagined with its spotless, almost blandly corporate interiors, and the effects are more than effective. Passengers is a fine film even if it becomes a rather typical affair.