Passengers is not an action film. It is a romance.
Passengers arrives at a time where the public is more aware than it has ever been before. The rise in science fiction, on both the big screen and small, has led to a larger group of individuals who 5 to 10 years ago may have completely disregarded the genre completely.
While there is a broader range of films being accepted to ‘blockbuster’ status than ever before, different genres are being pulled into this definition, but more importantly different mixtures of these genres.
What Passengers does well, is bring together the consistently impressive range of Jennifer Lawrence and ever growing importance of Chris Pratt and creates a film showing what is now possible within modern day cinema. Regrettably, Passengers is also a perfect example of how the tendency to cover up issues behind the scenes, with impeccable special effects, has become the norm.
The plot centralises around a journey from Earth to a new colony, Homestead II, taking 5000 passengers and 200 staff to start new lives on a brand new planet. Each passenger has their own hibernation pod, where they will stay until they reach the new planet, held in a form of suspended animation. However, problems rise when Jim (Chris Pratt) and eventually Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) are woken up 80 years too early.
With a premise as strong as this there were a lot of directions the film could have taken. It could easily have become an incredible horror but it was billed and aimed to become an action film. A movie full of energy, excitement and mystery, and this is where credibility for the film evaporates. Perhaps it was to bring in a viewing audience or potentially the tone of the film just missed its mark but Passengers is not an action film. It is a romance.
There is no way to avoid the fact and despite there being clever and exhilarating moments of action, the film cannot pass as anything other than a romance with its plot focusing solely on the close relationship Lawrence and Pratt build alone on the ship. Passengers was not sold, nor was it intended to end in this way, which is why it falls so short of the mark.
Stemming from this particular issue comes Chris Pratt. We know how wonderful he is in comedic roles, and Guardians Of The Galaxy shows him in an comedy role with action incorporated, but all Passengers does is show that he is not capable, yet, of pulling a performance worthy of the one the film needed from him.
Yes, his connection with Jennifer Lawrence is encapsulating but there is a limit to how far that can take the film without both actors bring their absolute best. There isn’t enough substance behind their performances to allow for anything but deeply layered characters played perfectly.
The issues stand because Passengers is a film with so much potential, and so much clear effort put into making it visually perfect, its basics are left untouched when they needed reworking. A misleading trailer, an underdeveloped plot, and confusing outlook makes Passengers feel like a passenger on its own wayward ship.