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.
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.
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.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.