With taglines like: There is a reason they woke up, and, Nothing Happens by Accident, you have every right to expect mystery and intrigue. Passengers soon reneges on these empty promises.
The concept is a decent one and visually the film gets off to a great start. The sets wouldn’t look out of place in an Alien film. Everyone aboard the starship Avalon is heading to a Homestead II, a new Earth, a fresh start. It takes 120 years, so by the time they are removed from suspended animation, their loved ones back home will have long passed.
Bad news for Chris Pratt’s character, Jim Preston, is that the ship hits an asteroid field. Or more like, half the field hits the ship. It causes damage to multiple systems, breaking his pod’s sleep cycle. Just his pod, mind. Bad, bad (writing?) luck.
It means Jim spends a year trying to fix the problem, get access to the crew and bridge rooms, and eventually face suicide. Until he happens across Aurora Lane’s (that’s Jennifer Lawrence) sleep capsule. With nothing else to do, he looks into her story. She’s a writer so he reads her back catalogue and watches all her induction videos.
“She’s so funny,” he exclaims.
Jim’s only company has been Michael Sheen’s Arthur, an android barman. He’s like a really friendly version of Lloyd from The Shining. He is at pains whether or not to wake Aurora up or not.
Well, he does. And suffice to say, that secret gets out. So you see, there was a reason they woke up: to drive a stagnant story on. No conspiracy, no experiment, no sabotage.
In a movie of convenient moments, it is no surprise that Aurora falls for Jim. Their class difference aside (he gets better breakfasts now she’s around from the computer), chances of meeting a soul mate based on assumptions, and the strain of the situation have no bearing. They’re just perfect for one another.
Later in the film, Laurence Fishburne pitches up when another pod fails. Convenient that this occurs when the story needed another plot device and equally handy that it’s just a single pod again.
The closing section sees Jim and Aurora forced to work together to save the damaged ship. What they can’t save is the weak script. Okay, it’s a harmless romantic movie but a waste of an imposing set, good actors, and a solid premise.
The studio didn’t spend $110m and bring in two hot box office names for the sort of experience that will be relegated to lazy Sunday afternoons on the sofa. The poor results and box office performance won’t hurt any of the stars, they’ve enough credit in the bank, but it’s an inexcusable disappointment.