Talk about a crash landing.
After weeks of a seemingly endless press tour (seriously, if we never see Pratt or Lawrence on a talk show couch again, we’re good), it appears that the sci-fi flick officially does not live up to the hype. In fact, “Passengers” sounds like a very different film than what’s being advertised in the inescapable trailers streaming across practically every device in America.
Critics took most issue with a seriously problematic twist that robs Lawrence’s character of any agency, the film’s thin plotting and an over-reliance on the charm of its stars to distract from its larger failures.
Read a collection of some of the most brutal reviews below:
“None of it is very interesting, nor can it get the foul taste out of your mouth about Pratt’s unredeemable character. It doesn’t help the film’s whole female-victimization vibe either that Lawrence is relegated to being a pretty helpless damsel in distress when the Avalon’s systems start to fail. She’s way too good of an actress to be told to look scared and shout lines like “What does that mean?!” when technical terms are thrown around, and “Jim, how do we fix this?!”while Pratt tries to win her back with his can-do heroism. She’s stuck in what essentially amounts to a risable two-hour exhibit of sci-fi Stockholm Syndrome.”
“Tyldun handles the dialogue almost as if he were doing a stage play, but he turns out to be a blah director of spectacle; he doesn’t make it dramatic. (He does create one cool image, though, of a swimming pool freed from gravity.) There isn’t much to “Passengers” besides its one thin situation, and there are moments when the film could almost be “a very special episode of ‘Star Trek,’” because Pratt, with his golden-boy smirk, has a Kirkian side, and the voyage they’re on is grandiose yet amorphous (like the Enterprise’s). The ship itself has a variety of chambers and communal spaces, but it all seems overly familiar and sterile. What’s lackluster about “Passengers” isn’t just that the movie is short on surprise, but that it’s like a castaway love story set in the world’s largest, emptiest shopping mall in space.”
“Only actors as immediately likable and emotionally dynamic as Pratt and Lawrence would be able to pull off a film that requires this much heavy lifting, and their easy chemistry makes up for many of Passengers’ misses. Pratt in particular has to fill a lot of the film by himself, and he makes a convincing case for Jim as he makes his tough choice and then deals with the fallout of it.”
“Passengers” is also part of a good trend — a sci-fi movie about being smart. Like “Arrival,” “The Martian” and “Interstellar, it’s a story that sets up a problem — and then gets its drama out of people solving it. There isn’t a murderous alien or raygun in the whole thing. But then there’s the movie’s own problem — the ugliness of that early, ill-advised twist. That sets things off on a bad course — and although the movie doesn’t immediately crash and burn, it never, ever recovers. It loses some of its warmth, and most of its charm. And it ends up as nearly as cold and creepy as the space it takes us through.”
“There is, at first, a thrilling what-if in Jon Spaihts’ screenplay, which concocts a sort of Titanic in outer space, with dollops of Sleeping Beauty and ‘Gravity’ thrown into the high-concept mix. Under less shiny, by-the-numbers direction, the story might have soared, or at least been more stirring. Yet while Passengers offers a few shrewd observations about our increasingly tech-enabled, corporatized lives, its heavy-handed mix of life-or-death exigencies and feel-good bromides finally feels like a case of more being less.”
“It doesn’t help that Tyldum frequently shoots Lawrence with an almost fetishistic interest in her curves, to the point that even after the cat’s out of the bag — and Lawrence nails Aurora’s initial distress and rage — he cuts from her screaming “You took my life!” to an ogling shot of her swimming in a two-piece. And she swims a lot.”
“Passengers” refuses to really wrestle with the compelling questions at its core, instead opting to lean on Lawrence and Pratt’s collective charm to keep things ticking amiably along. The problem is, this isn’t an amiable story — it’s a philosophically thorny one, and aiming to keep things light doesn’t dilute any of its issues, it just dumbs the entire outing down. “Titanic” in space? No, but it’s certainly a disaster.”