Reviewed: Passengers (2016, Morten Tyldum)

passengers-poster-new

Directed by: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishbourne

Studio: Columbia

With a cut and paste premise that comes across bland in places, Passengers is a film that struggles to differentiate itself from the others within its genre. Lead by two of Hollywoods most ‘A’ list ‘A-listers’, Passengers does a lot that makes it watchable, however as a film it struggles to maintain momentum throughout its entire duration. With a relatively small cast (4 different roles) Passengers excels in presenting its characters in a personalised manner. In achieving an intimate study of these particular filmic creations, Passengers struggles to maintain its narrative purpose. This results in one of the most splitting film creations to have received wide cinematic release.

Carrying a relatively simple narrative, the film is given a freedom to express its plot to a good standard throughout the duration, but struggles to produce a uniqueness within its context. Although presenting the plot in space creates a sense of isolation and danger for the characters we are invested within, the copy and paste nature of this premise results in a film that could take place anywhere else and not feel entirely different in what it is showing. This disappoints as the films location is never fully realised, and instead seems to function as only the platform from which the characters take shape. With the plot focused on Jim (Chris Pratt) and his isolation in being woken up early from cryosleep, Passengers manages to convey the harshness of the situation and its effects on the lead character. When Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) comes into play, the film shifts tones slightly – becoming more generic in pushing a romance narrative to the forefront of the narrative.

The film attempts to position the audience in way in which they can decide how they would proceed in a similar situation, questioning their moral standing within a lost cause of isolation. However through the lack of depth regarding the films plot, and with a continual struggle to fully present this choice to its viewer, the emphasis instead is placed on presenting a film within the romance genre.

With the films two leads, it is instantly clear that the two young actors hold a great deal of chemistry with one another. This is presented throughout the development of the two onscreen, their relationship with one another and how they resonate with the audience. This chemistry really is the driving force of the film, with the characters and their performances with each, being the main reason to find enjoyment within this production. With a resolute amount of fun in every scene that the two leads are seen together, the respective characters become enjoyable and entertaining. Shifting perspective between the two with a seamless transition, Passengers manages to balance the two leads perfectly – bring a justification to the development of their characters, and enhancing their cinematic appeal.

With a great performance from Michael Sheen, and a surprising turn from Laurence Fishbourne, Passengers is well acted within its four main roles, creating a sense of participation from its audience, and a quality in how it is performed. The characters do develop throughout the film, but are allowed to keep a level of mystery in what is coming next.

Passengers is a film that is directed to a good quality throughout, with its pacing and production design done to a highly effective standard. The set designs are especially well produced, with the film holding some of the most visually impressive versions of future living to have been showcased in cinema. Their inclusion within this production adds a level of theatrics to proceedings, but can in places seem disjointed due to their impracticality in a real world situation. With a decision to design the ship in this way, the filmmakers have created a high tech and classy locale from which the development of the characters can take place.

With a soft edit, Passengers smoothy transitions between its scenarios, complimented by some of impressive performances from its cast. There is an obvious choice to base every filmmaking decision around its glamorous leads, with an emphasis placed on their performances in every situation. This is both a positive and negative aspect of the film, with the leads showing charisma within their performance, but at the cost of not holding excitement consistently throughout its narrative. In truth Passengers is not a terrible movie, it just simply isn’t a great one. 

Plot – 3

Acting – 4

Direction – 3

Special Effects – 3

Retrospect – 2

Overall – 3

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