So I just watched Passengers last week.
Honestly, it was fantastic.
I loved it despite itself, honestly, and that’s a lot coming from me.
I was prepared to like this film for several reasons:
- Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic
- Chris Pratt is fantastic
- MOVIES IN SPACE FTW!
- On a space ship, for reals!
- Michael Sheen is also fantastic, although not featured in the promotional materials. I really like the subtleties of his acting. P.S. he was AWESOME in the Underworld Trilogy, which is also awesome.
To be honest, films about space and spaceships (and stories in general, I suppose) are so often about what goes wrong, instead of what goes right, so I was prepared for that.
Chris Pratt plays Jim, a mechanic who is going to a new world on a huge spaceship. He has some serious mechanic skills. Jim is likable, occasionally naked, and awoken too early when the ship malfunctions after it hits something.
What I wasn’t prepared for is the slowness of Act One – it shows Jim’s character and his descent into despair as he is stuck on the ship for a year. His despair is slow and beautiful to watch. He does what you would expect someone who was stuck on a ship would do: drink, eat, dance party, watch movies, and play basketball.
I think the thing that surprised me about the descent into despair is how likable his character is, event when he’s got a full beard, walking around the ship wearing a blanket and no pants. Chris Pratt has a gorgeous body, btw.
What rescues Jim, in a large sense, is finding someone to love. He sees this beautiful woman in stasis, and he slowly discovers her: he reads her writing, he comes over to her pod and talks to her, he fantasizes about her. This part, honestly, is a little creepy, but Jim is so likable!
Then he realizes he could wake her up if he wanted. It’s this moment that the movie hinges on: the fact that he could end his loneliness by condemning someone else to being woken up early.
After many months of deciding, he wakes her up. They fall in love. He hides it from her that he woke her up, and then the bartender reveals it.
This betrayal is too much for Aurora, Jennifer Lawrence’s character.
I guess the thing that I loved most about this film is that it doesn’t shy away from the ramifications of that betrayal. She still loves him, but it adds a new layer of disbelief and hatred over top of that.
I think real-life betrayals are like that. We act in our own self-interest. We realize that our actions could hurt others terribly, but we act anyway. We hope they don’t find out, because if they ever did, our whole life together would be a lie. But it’s not the lie that destroys us: it’s the love layered over top of it.
But they are still the only two people on the ship. In this, a metaphor for relationship is very apt. When someone betrays us, it’s like we are the only two people in the whole world, just now we have this betrayal between us.
Act two has over the top action, and he saves the ship and she goes out and saves him, and then somehow, they manage to build a life together.
We don’t see that, though, because that is where the movie more or less ends. I could have watched these two more and more – they are so interesting, and the way that they mend their relationship after that kind of betrayal would be really interesting. Alas, though, all good things must end.
This movie was great.