Talk about a long nap: the 5000 passengers and crew on the Starship Avalon are on a 120-year voyage from Earth to their new outer-space home. They are put into a state of hibernation for the super long journey. However, because of a malfunction, Jim Preston, (Chris Pratt) an engineer, wakes up after only 30 years. He panics when he realizes that he’s likely to die before the vessel reaches its destination in 90 years. He finds his way around the space craft, locating the food and exercise facilities. His only companion is the robot bartender, Arthur (Michael Sheen). After a year, loneliness overwhelms him. He walks among the other passengers, deeply sleeping in their pods. After a lengthy emotional and moral internal debate, he decides to awaken another passenger, journalist Aurora Dunn (Jennifer Lawrence). Once awake, she panics just as Jim had done. Also, as he had done, she tries to figure out a way to get back to sleep. But again, like him, she eventually accepts her fate. And as would be expected, they fall in love and all is well until Aurora learns that unlike with Jim, her waking up was no accident, but an intentional act on his part.
“Passengers” is a moderately entertaining adventure, and viewers can’t be sure where it’s headed. However, it never reaches its entertainment destination. The writers start with an interesting premise: a young man and woman wake up 90 years too soon on an interstellar voyage. After that, they just don’t seem to know where to go from there. Another one of the crew members, Chief Gus Mancuso (Laurence Fishburne) wakes up and has a short, strange interaction with Jim and Aurora. The film deteriorates to the point where viewers laugh at scenes and dialogue not intended to be funny.
No complaints about Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. They serve their purposes: eye candy for viewers and are credible in their roles. The special effects are weak compared with the technological marvels Hollywood’s capable of these days.
It’s difficult to give this film a cast diversity rating, with such a small cast. It would have received a D- except for the short appearance by Fishburne, which lifts it up to a C+. As Jim walks past the passengers in pods, very few of the inhabitants are people of color; this was an opportunity to add some color to the cast.
Leave these “Passengers” alone. Just as Jim and Aurora feared about their own plight, “Passengers” is dead on arrival! It’s 116 minutes and rated PG-13 for sexuality, nudity and action/peril.