Imagine if you were traveling to a far away planet to live and you had to be in induced hibernation for 120 years to get there! Somehow I find that very hard to fathom and wrap my brain around that long time period. Talk about a long nap.
Such is the premise of the current film “Passengers”, starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. The story involves the starship Avalon, which is transporting over 5,000 colonist to the planet known as Homestead II. During an unexpected occurrence, one of the passengers, Jim Preston (Pratt), a mechanical engineer, is accidentally awakened from his hibernation pod 90 years early. After discovering he is alone, save for the android bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen), Jim begins a mission to see if he can enter hibernation again. After failing to find a way to do so, Jim begins a year long existence of isolation aboard the Avalon. When Jim gets to the point where he can no longer take being so isolated, he makes the difficult decision of waking Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a writer he has been learning about via recorded videos. Once Aurora awakens from her pod, Jim never mentions he “unfroze” her. Oops. The two eventually become lovers, while Jim holds tight to his secret. After a year of bliss for the two love birds, everything comes crashing down for Jim when a certain android reveals the mechanics secret.
As expected, the shocking news causes a major riff between Aurora and Jim, and all appears lost for Jim until the unexpected appearance of Chief Deck Officer Gus (Lawrence Fishburne), unites the two in an effort to save the ship due to the malfunctions that were caused by the incident that released Jim from his pod years before. The repairs do not go as planned, and Jim must perform a dangerous repair or the ship will explode, killing all 5,000 plus passengers. Jim and Aurora work effectively together to bring the ship back in order, and Aurora discovers she truly loves Jim. However, after the repair and a tense moment involving a space walk, Jim discovers a way for just Aurora to be placed back in hibernation, so she can make it to Homestead II where she can write about her experiences on the colony. What did Aurora do? I will not reveal that here, so as not to give away too much. I love the way the film conveys the message of how we are actually “passengers” in life and are all on a journey filled with life altering decisions. Director Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”) treats his actors with respect, and allows them the freedom to evolve their characters. Pratt was his usual charming self, and effectively conveyed both heartbreak and bliss with equal aplomb. Lawrence was also effective, and was never overshadowed by her co-star. Thankfully, Pratt and Lawrence have great onscreen chemistry, or this film would have never worked. Aided by awesome performances and top flight special effects, “Passengers” is well worth the journey to your local theater to catch this entertaining sci-fi/adventure/romance.
(Rated PG-13) 3 1/2 starships (out of 4)