Bogart and Bergman, Gere and Roberts, Rogers and Astaire: The movies are full of classic on-screen couples who have defined romance in the films. The producers of Passengers must have felt they were on to the same thing when they cast current Hollywood A-Listers Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in a Sci-Fi romance. To some extent, they were right.
It may be too much to predict instant chemistry but Pratt and Lawrence do deliver. They sparkle on-screen and make for a convincing couple. They are believable and because of this you feel yourself rooting for them, invested in their relationship and the direction it is taking. If Passengers was a straight love story, it would be a successful one, although a pretty generic and non-descript one as well.
To it’s credit, Passengers tries to do something else with the love story gimmick. Passengers is more than just a story of two star-crossed lovers but instead adds a science-fiction element, placing their relationship firmly in space. In fact the love story angle is just one single part of what is trying to be an unique story. Passengers is part Castaway, part Gravity but not particularly a successful attempt at either.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that Passengers was originally just a love story. This aspect is done very well, with a great, unique situation to add something slightly unusual. Weirdly, it feels like the space element is an afterthought and that the finale of the movie is “bolted-on.”
It isn’t that it is delivered in a poor manner. There are some very interesting elements and aspects of it work quite well. Unfortunately, it never truly excites and almost jars with has gone before, feeling like the producers were too worried they didn’t have a convincing or exciting end to the sci-fi movie.
It’s a shame because they don’t need an artificial, thrilling end because the central story which takes up most of the movie’s run-time is interesting enough, particularly when you have Lawrence and Pratt at it’s core. Instead, the finale feels rushed, under-developed and worse of all, is tied up far too neatly and seems to forget all the excellent work which had gone before.
Overall, Passengers could well have brought a great, new screen-partnership to the movies, with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt sizzling with convincing chemistry. Unfortunately, the film isn’t brave enough to stick with a decent love story and the film becomes a generic, basic sci-fi adventure instead.
Rating – 3
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