Passengers (2016)

D+ SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

If you had to cast two Hollywood actors to watch being all by themselves in a luxury starliner on a doomed 90-year voyage to a planet they will never live to see, you might just pick Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. In a way, that’s the problem with Passengers, or where the problems begin.

Directed by Morten Tyldum. Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne. Columbia.

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Moral/Spiritual Value


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MPAA Rating


Caveat Spectator

Brief sexuality and nudity; some cursing and crude language; action peril.

Pratt plays Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer who awakens from suspended animation on the starship Avalon to a preprogrammed message that only four months remain of the ship’s 120-year trip to the Homestead II colony. The only trouble is that the other 5,000-plus passengers are still asleep. And it’s 90 years too early. And there’s no way to get help — or to get back to sleep.

While there’s certainly a male-fantasy conceit here, it’s not that the second person who wakes up is as lovely and fit as Katniss Everdeen, but that the first is as buff and handsome as Star-Lord. I am now thinking of a slightly nastier version of this movie in which Lawrence wakes up and finds herself alone on a ship with John C. Reilly or Brendan Gleeson.

As existential crises go, this is a poignant one. There are some canny conceits, such as the cheerful computer interfaces that go in circles answering your questions, like being trapped inside a trillion-dollar voicemail system from hell — in outer space, 20 light-years from Earth. The hibernation units do not and cannot malfunction, except when they do, and the ship may be malfunctioning in other ways as well.

Fortunately the Avalon is stocked and loaded to support thousands of passengers and crew for the last four months of the trip, so there’s plenty of food and amenities — though Jim can’t get a good cup of coffee or a nice hot breakfast, since, in what turns out to be the worst economizing call of his life, he hadn’t sprung for the premium package. Sometimes four months turns into your whole life.

Science Fiction