Passengers: Stop the Shuttle, I Want to Get Off

Passengers Plot Summary:

Two passengers wake up ninety years early on a 120-year space journey to another planet.  With no possible way to fix their hibernation pods, the man (Chris Pratt) and woman (Jennifer Lawrence) try and reconcile their fate together.

There’s nobody who gets annoyed more than me when people decide it’s time to start hating on an actor or director once they’ve had too much success. At the age of 26, Jennifer Lawrence has experienced an unprecedented amount of success. 1 Oscar. 4 Nominations. 3 Globes. Two massive franchises (Hunger Games, X-Men). As human beings do, we get jealous. This pisses me off. I enjoy watching sustained greatness. We should be inspired by it. If Jennifer Lawrence makes ninety great films in a row, I’m going to tell you they are ninety great films in a row.  I’m not going to arbitrarily hate one just because “It’s time.” Having said all that, Passengers blows bags. Yeah. I genuinely do not like this film. The problem with this movie isn’t Jennifer Lawrence or Chris Pratt, but it doesn’t help that arguably the two most over exposed actors right now are alone in a woefully underwritten project with bad direction.

Chris Pratt is Chris Pratt. I really don’t know what else to say. I like Chris Pratt. He’s extremely likable. I appreciate what he does. We have a situation though where he’s almost too perfect for the role. He’s certainly the type of person you’d like to hang out with stranded on a ship. With a better script or direction, maybe he could have shown more range.

For the people who are in the “I’m sick of Jennifer Lawrence” camp, this was probably the worst role she could have taken. She plays a writer from New York, and yes, it’s about as annoying as it sounds. To be honest, if Lawrence wasn’t in the part, this could have been a lot more irritating. Her character is the most clichéd writer in the history of the world, and the dialogue they give her is utterly pretentious. I hate to break out the “p” word, but it legitimately applies. There’s a scene where she’s watching videos of her old friends from when she was on Earth, and they are the most obnoxious New Yorkers you could ever dream up (apologies to New Yorkers, but not really). You know what I’m talking about though – screaming and yelling at a snooty bar (WOOOOOOOOOOO!). Oh, for the love of Long Island, cut me a break. It’s like the screenwriter is trying to piss you off. The two actors have some chemistry and a few nice moments, but they are dead in the water, which leads us to the real problem with this movie.

The writer for this is Jon Spaihts, and he’s been a nuisance of mine for a while. The Darkest HourPrometheusDoctor Strange. I’m sure that last one excites many of you, but not me.  He continues his tradition of uninspired writing: Throw away characters. Easy jokes.  Atrocious dialogue. This is amateur hour, I’m sorry. There’s also a major twist that isn’t advertised in the trailers. I give them credit for keeping this under wraps, but when you introduce a plot device like they do here, it takes the wind out of the whole story. You’re just waiting for that big secret to be revealed, and the way it gets uncovered is lazy writing to its core.  It makes me want to puke up space ice cream. As much as I like to continue piling on the writer, he’s still not the main culprit. That honor belongs to the director.

When everyone was praising Morten Tyldum two years ago for The Imitation Game, I was the one guy yelling “IT’S OVERRATED!” My biggest complaint was how generic and going through the motions it was. That’s what you get with Passengers. You actually have a solid concept here, but Tyldum gets his hackneyed hands all over it and ruins everything. The idea of two people stranded in space forever is intriguing. This is a movie that should have been directed by Darren Aronofsky.  Now that would have made one hell of a film. Instead they go lovey-dovey cutesy wootsy, and the film is absolutely not better off for it.

I’m infuriated at how plain this movie is. The score sounds like it belongs on a low rated SyFy show. The third act is the most Hollywooded up climax of all time. It’s an absolute chore to sit through. I feel bad for Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.They were left for dead, and I actually credit them for salvaging an ounce of entertainment value. This is what happens when you get bad writing and bad directing. You get a bad movie. Go figure.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (Really Bad)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.