A Dangerous and Romantic Ride

This holiday season, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” isn’t the only epic space adventure that will have audiences flocking to the theaters. “Passengers,” starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, will have audience members at the edge of their seats from the time the opening credits role.

The film, directed by Morten Tyldum, centers on Jim Preston (Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Lawrence), two travelers on a 120-year voyage to a new world aboard the luxury spacecraft Avalon who are accidentally awakened from their cryogenic sleep 90 years too soon. Over the course of a year, Jim and Aurora develop a romantic relationship, but their happiness ends abruptly when the startling secret behind their premature awakening is revealed; a secret that could prove deadly.

“Passengers” is a new and interesting take on the idea of futuristic space travel as well as a unique and charming love story. While the special effects are breathtaking and the premise is intriguing, the film does, however, become a tad predictable and hokey during the last 45 minutes or so, ending on a rather weak note that leaves viewers burning with unanswered questions about the fate of its characters. Though the ship shows no signs of stopping, the story quickly runs out of steam.  Acclaimed actor Laurence Fishburne’s character, Gus, is introduced shortly before the movie’s end and only serves to further the plot in a minor way. Overall, Fishburne and his role felt unnecessary.

Arthur, the robotic bartender played by Michael Sheen, serves as both the primary voice of reason for both Jim and Aurora and the film’s main source of comic relief. And though he does induce a few laughs, Arthur, much like Fishburne’s character, only serves to further the plot with a colossal bombshell that he unintentionally drops at the film’s halfway point.

Jennifer Lawrence plays the beautiful and witty leading lady that she is typically known and loved for, but also gets the chance to show off a darker and more intense side of her acting prowess not seen in previous roles. The character of Aurora Lane is charming and intelligent, but at the drop of a hat becomes cold, vindictive, and even violent. It’s a side of Lawrence that audiences are unfamiliar with, but one that viewers and will be happy to see her play so well. And while Lawrence, along with Fishburne and Sheen, gives a stellar performance, it is Chris Pratt who steals the show.

Pratt’s portrayal of the solitary man in space is truly powerful. Jim is alone on the spacecraft for over a year before Aurora enters the picture. As time passes and Jim grows lonelier, sadder, and desperate for human companionship, Pratt’s performance becomes more impactful and deeply moving. Viewer’s hearts will break as they watch Jim wrestle with dark and depressing thoughts of loneliness and longing as well as the morality of altering someone else’s life for the sake of his own. Pratt has come a long way since “Parks and Recreation’s” lovable goofball, Andy Dwyer. In “Passengers,” he excels in both a romantic and dramatic role.  

Despite the bummer of an ending, “Passengers” is a moving tale, exciting adventure, and wild ride that movie lovers won’t want to miss. It’s the perfect cinematic treat for couples looking for a romantic date night flick or sci-fi fans searching for a new “out of this world” experience. “Passengers” gets a 4/5.

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