Two passengers on a spaceship heading to a distant colony are woken up 90 years before they should be. Now they are stranded together but alone. They have to figure out a way to survive. That is the way the trailer makes it seem at least. And I will be honest, that is a movie I'd like to see. But that is not what you get. Actually, it is not even close. Chris Pratt character, Jim, wakes up Aurora. For the filmmakers it is a minor obstacle on the route to romance; for the audience, it's a deal-breaker.
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt have a spicy chemistry. They work well together as literal star-crossed lovers. The setting is unorthodox but the blossoming romance is entirely familiar. Though, Chris Pratt ultimately carries the whole movie. His character is far more interesting than hers, he has more layers than she has. Plus, Michael Sheen injects a welcome third perspective, laying bare their flaws.
Passengers is not just short on surprises, it is also like a castaway love story set in the world largest and emptiest Apple Store in space. This movie has opportunities to be great, there are some scenes when I think they could have made something a lot more interesting and challenging than what they settled for. However, the CGI, and particularly a zero-gravity swimming pool sequence, is impressive. Believe it or not, there are more twists and turns half a movie left after all this, but none of it is very interesting either.
Finally, the movie keeps jerking from tone to tone until you end up feeling like you are weightlessly drifting in zero-gravity. In fact, the film can't make up its mind if it wants to stick to Pratt's comic instincts or go someplace more serious or existential. Moreover, the Titanic parallels are left throughout sometimes in explicit nods as a cheesy space walk stands in for 'flying' on the prow; and elsewhere in the film's broader structure. Much like Cameron's nautical disaster, Passengers' early love story gives way to a latter disaster flick.
Overall, Passengers is misleading at first sight and as surprisingly as it is undeniably effective. A timeless romance stranded in a space-age. A heartfelt tale of loss and love for the Gravity generation.