Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Julie Cerda.
The biblical tale of Adam and Eve, it may as well come from the future as the past, it might as well have the allusion to science fiction as to the workings of the Church and the Council of Trent, for in every realm of new civilisations that stride across the planet and hopefully one day in too the dark reaches of space, there is always a story of beginnings, of absolute starts.
Of course Passengers does not dress itself up to be a biblical allegory but humanity’s need to explore, to go beyond the confines of Earth where over population and constant dwindling of resources has eaten into the joy of living, is very much the point. The spectre of loneliness is such it haunts the film in the same way that the story of Adam and Eve cannot be ignored, that the desperation to find another human being in which to relate to, to talk to, to care for, is the same as it has been throughout history; the only difference is that on occasion the vastness of space and the journey undertaken to find new worlds is a lot more arduous than being tempted to take a bite from the tree of knowledge.
Whilst the story line is at least intriguing, the pace of the film only comes through in the last half hour, it is an enjoyable romp, a despairing look at the moral choice of reviving someone from their imposed sleep to have companionship or to suffer the inevitable alone. It is in that choice that really is the crux of the matter and one in which makes you feel more sympathetic to the plight placed before Chris Pratt’s Jim Preston.
With such a small cast, again perhaps aping the initial moments of the first testament where the Garden of Eden is introduced to the reader or the biblical scholar, there is no room to hide behind the script or the visual experience that awaits the cinema goer, this is a film in which nakedness of spirit would as punished as using a fig leaf to cover shame.
It is in the delightful Michael Sheen that the film’s more serene moments hang upon, the sheer depth of class he brings to the screen more than makes up for the fairly loose pairing employed of Jennifer Lawrence and the underwhelmed Chris Pratt, who really only spring into action again in the last half hour of the film’s existence.
Passengers is a film of very good special effects, of enjoyable dialogue and the question of what it means to feel alone when surrounded by the prospect of 5,000 other people all in suspended animation. Humanity prevails but we have not come very far from believing in the absolute of origins.
Ian D. Hall