Film Review

‘Passengers’ (2016). NON-SPOILER Review. ★★★★

Still from imdb.com, ©Sony Pictures

Buckle up! Morten Tyldum is taking us for the ride of a galactic lifetime aboard the Avalon, and it’s about to get a tad bumpy…

Passengers (2016) has enthralled and intrigued us from the teaser stills and trailers from their first outing. With star names like Lawrence and Pratt spearheading the cast, ably supported by Sheen and Fishburne, the film was undoubtedly going to wow audiences when it hit the big screen.

That time has come, and it is as visually breathtaking as the promotional material promised. As the Avalon starship cruises through the vastness of space, the audience cannot help but be awestruck by the aestheticism of the surrounding galaxies. The ship itself is as futuristic as it is realistically modern, leading viewers to feel engaged in such a way that we don’t feel this technology to be beyond our grasp.

The acting talents don’t disappoint, either: Lawrence and Pratt capture and hold our gaze throughout the film. When onscreen, audience attention rarely strays from the pair- their characters portrayed with subtlety and charm, making the expansive ship seem full, despite the two being the only ones Awake. When offscreen, we want to know what they think, feel and do. Pratt’s Pretson is a troubled man whose soul preservation is the company of his fellow passenger, Lawrence’s captivating Lane. When not satisfied with eachother’s company, the pair find a companion in Sheen’s Arthur, the charming android bartender. Here, we see a fascinating comparison between the organically human and the Other: in the face of things, a friendly barkeep embodies the familiar that these two so desperately need.

Still from imdb.com, ©Sony Pictures

The film site imdb.com describes Passengers as a mixture of adventure, drama and romance. I’d say it isn’t a spoiler to suggest that science-fiction should be added to this description: the whole film is predicated upon an interstellar voyage that encounters a slight hiccough, and it is the fate of the leading couple to attempt to overcome the challenges ahead as a team. As such, one cannot say that the film follows one set of genre conventions, but is made up of several tropes and devices. Romance and adventure set pulses racing, the drama instills an element of suspense and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats to the very end, and the sci-fi conventions provide the aesthetic and narrative platform for the storyline to be built upon.

Rated 12A, there are moments of raunchiness and derring-do which lift this film from the realm of soft adventure to a more adult feature. The pivotal plot-point anchors this narrative in a moment of humanitarian unease that steers this film into some very murky waters indeed, addressing several sociocultural issues that come a touch too close to the morality wire for absolute “Post-Film Smug” feelings. However, that is not to say that this is a bleak film: there is mirth galore to balance the murk, and the layers of complexities bring a rounded atmosphere which make this a very more-ish 116 minutes.

Still from imdb.com, ©Sony Pictures

 

Passengers (2016) is in UK cinemas now.

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