FILM REVIEW: All aboard for a thinker’s journey into space

Passengers
Passengers

PASSENGERS (12A) – SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: CHRIS PRATT, JENNIFER LAWRENCE, MICHAEL SHEEN, ANDY GARCIA & LAURENCE FISHBURNE

RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 56 MINS

DIRECTOR: MORTEN TYLDUM

This character-driven sci-fi drama from the director of The Imitation Game won’t be to everyone’s tastes – but with two of Hollywood’s hottest properties leading proceedings there’s still much to enjoy here.

To some this could seem like a space drama padded out over one simple premise – and could arguably leave those looking for a little more activity baying for more – but it’s undoubtedly a ‘thinker’ of a movie that gives plenty of food for thought.

One major plus is the chemistry between Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World) and Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games quadrilogy), starring as two passengers marooned alone on a spacecraft in the outer depths of space when they wake up 90 years too early due to a mysterious malfunction.

The Avalon spaceship they’re on is transporting them and 5,000 colonists to the distant planet Homestead II, and after waking up from their hibernation pods only 30 years into their 120-year journey into the cosmos they have to quickly adapt to their hopeless situation.

With only android Arthur (Brit actor Michael Sheen) for company, they have to try and accept their thankless long-term situation, which leaves them falling in love in the process – albeit with a dark secret that could just tear them apart.

This has more than passing similarities to the likes of George Clooney’s Solaris (but probably a bit more commercial), so if you didn’t like that, then this probably won’t have enough to retain your interest.

But if you stick with it, Lawrence and Pratt’s generally captivating performances do enough with the generally flimsy story – with director Tyldum’s breathtaking science-fiction backdrops (from the ship and its technology to the planets and the stars) beautifully papering over the cracks.

It does lose a lot of its initial ingenuity by ‘chickening’ out of its intriguingly darker premise by turning in a slightly generic Hollywood ending in the final third – but despite mixed reviews this is still arguably more enjoyable than the recent highly-acclaimed Arrival.

So if you want to be more than a passenger in this movie – it’s worth joining the ride.

Rating: 3/5 – Gavin Miller