Film: ‘Passengers’; Director: Morten Tyldum; Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence; Rating:**1/2
First things first. “Passengers”, a film about two very beautiful people thrown together in outer space, would have been a much finer work if it had not been in 3D. What the 3D technique does is to isolate the audience from the action. Passengers needed the contrary approach. We need to feel the full force of the passion that our two protagonists, Jim and Aurora feel for one another when they have no one else to feel anything for.
This could have been Robinsoe Crusoe with his soul-mate marooned on an island in outerspace. It squanders the opportunity of being a profound study of shared isolation and instead elects to unveil a series of staged spaceship hijinks such as ‘Jim Dates Aurora’, ‘Jim Mates Aurora’, ‘Aurora Hates Jim’ and so on.
Admittedly the special effects are of a very high quality specially when we see our two lovers come of their space ship and float in open space. Then there is sequence about gravity failing in the spaceship where Ms Lawrence is trapped in waves of swirling water in the swimmingpool.
The sight is enough to mollify all our senses into submission to not ask questions on why these two people’s karma must be entwined just because they have chosen to voyage in time and space. Or maybe it is reason enough to bask in their togetherness when they seem so keen to find each other in a milieu where there is nothing else to do or find.
A lot of the goings-on in this giggle-inducing free-floating plot is like series of guessing games: When will Pratt and Lawrence actually fall into bed together’ Isn’t that what this is all about, finally’ We may pretend we are in it for the message(don’t ask me what what the message is). But what really intrigues is the fact of such a handsome pair on board a luxury cruiser that could give 7-star hotels a run for their money.
Much of the narrative is about watching Pratt court woo and seduce Lawrence. When that game wears thin the plot begins to look towards the spaceship for drama. The climax is a bit of a slog, filled with fire and fury that signifies very little except an aridity of true inspiration.
Pratt and Lawrence struggle with their skimpy roles. All is forgiven when the beauteous Ms Lawrence appears in a flaming-red dress at the end to share a drink with her co-star .With such a hefty volume of aesthetic gratification it would be churlish to look for heft in the plot, and even more churlish find it wanting.
“Passengers” gives us a lot to be happy about. While the leads impress us with their proclivity to seem preoccupied when they have nothing to do, Michael Sheen as a robotic bartender on board the ship gets the best lines and the most impassive attitude to the absurd proceedings. He actually makes it all seem tenable.By the time Laurence Fishburne shows up as the wheezing dying captain of the ship,we are already half asleep and well on the way to joining the spaceship voyagers in their lengthy slumber.
“Passengers” could have been a half-jestful date movie about a pair thrown together as neither has anywhere else to go. If only it had more to say about human nature when faced with such a galactic crisis.
By Subhash K Jha