|Starring||Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen|
|Release||21 DEC (US) 21 DEC (UK) Certificate 12A|
Character is secondary to concept here, but it's a fascinating one, perhaps more suited to a horror movie than a sci-fi: how much would you trust the software fated to safeguard the future of the human race? Buried (not especially deep) in Passengers is a cautionary tale about over-reliance on automation and the ruin that way lies. We trust Apple and Google with our darkest secrets - but would we trust them with our lives? The thought of one sole company being responsible for 5,000 lives over the course of 120 years in the darkest recesses of space is ripe with premise, but Passengers is only partially interested in exploring that concept.
Example. Pratt's hibernation pod malfunctions and he wakes up 90 years early. The first thing he does is climb back in and go to sleep, but the lid locks him in and doesn't put him to sleep. Death by bad design. The Ridley Scott version of Passengers maybe cuts off his air and makes him suffer a while; the Tyldum version chickens out. There's a streak of wickedness here where Pratt's character is denied all but the most basic coffee options because he's not a premium passenger; there's definitely a Terry Gilliam version of Passengers with an underclass hero undergoing a futile struggle against an automated utopian bureaucratic paradise that's determined to deny the last man on Earth a luxury. Tyldum's version merely touches on the nightmarish idea that one day a tech corporation will be in charge of your oxygen or that you might die if you forget your password.
Instead, Passengers goes the screensaver route: an inescapably gorgeous movie starring a picture perfect cast inhabiting a beautiful world created by the guys who probably also do Sony's top-end TVs. It's not hard to imagine a dozen different ways the concept could be improved upon, but it's also not a difficult film to enjoy. If it had built towards something, anything other than its own rather underwhelming logical conclusion, then Passengers might have been worth recommending - as it stands, it's an inoffensive, glossy movie that always feels like you're in the safe hands of a factory robot, efficiently putting the pieces together. You can't shake the feeling that the Michael Bay version, with the lingerie models and the car chase somehow and the spaceship sponsored by Bing, might have been more fun.