Rated PG-13

116 Minutes

Released December 21st

Passengers will immerse you in an exceptionally vivid world. Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, the art directors, the production designers, special effects and visual effects professionals who worked on this film have created an extraordinary environment on board the ship as well as in the cosmos surrounding it as it spins gracefully through deep space. You will feel as if you yourself are a passenger on this vessel. This world is incredibly imaginative and saturated with color and detail.

Within this environment the narrative develops, containing a moral dilemma and a love story. Jennifer Lawrence is at her best portraying great emotional and physical strength in her character “Aurora”, an intellectual writer. In fact she is so strong that a vulnerability shown later seems a bit out of character. Chris Pratt’s character is her polar opposite. His “Jim” is a blue collar, easygoing mechanic/ engineer who does his best to take everything in stride. Pratt gets the struggle between his character’s natural ease and the moral decision he faces. He does not quite convey the level of angst that Jim would feel as he is thrown into the Expressionist predicament created in this story. Michael Sheen is the highlight of the film as bartender “Arthur”. His comedic timing and nuanced expressions are all spot on. Lawrence Fishburne endows his character with depth in spite of having very little screen time.

Passengers made me squirm, though not because I was “on the edge of my seat”. The narrative and dialogue were not of the same superb level of the visuals and the music. I felt as if I were watching two different movies. The story’s premise has potential. However the characters do not use a manner of expression unique to their nature, and many of the lines are so contrived they are laughable. Perhaps it is because he is Norwegian that director Morten Tyldum, who did such great work with The Imitation Game, did not realize the dialogue needed work.

And then there’s the pace of the film. In the beginning the story evolves slowly as life aboard the ship is established. Later as problems arise, the action picks up speed suddenly. Details seem to be skipped over. The characters’ attempts to fix some complex problems are too simplistic to be believable. A fireball in one scene is so intense it could not have been survivable and yet…

Bottom line: See this movie for the stupendous work of the filmmakers who have created the visual and tonal environment. Don’t hang on the dialogue. Watch some astonishing scenes of Lawrence swimming in a pool on board the ship when systems go awry. Enjoy the ballet of the starship dancing through space, to the great music of Thomas Newman. It’s worth seeing for the artistry that went into those scenes, and of course a must-see for Jennifer Lawrence fans. 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com