Kudos to the marketers of Passengers for concealing The Big Twist of the movie, and shame on some critics for revealing it. Had someone spoiled The Twist for us, the pleasure of the first half of the movie would have been wiped out. So, of course we won’t tell you anything but the setup of this sci-fi romance: In the future, aboard a space cruise-ship traveling for 120 years, Jim the mechanic (Chris Pratt) and Aurora the writer (Jennifer Lawrence) wake up from their suspended animation state 90 years prematurely. No one else is awake and Earth is not contactable and they’re going to die on the ship. Neither the script nor the cinematography are exceptional. The well-paid, charming leads are. As is the production design and art direction and special effects that make the ship and its neat amenities come to life; and the score, some of Thomas Newman’s greatest hits redux, is effective. Despite being marketed as a sci-fi drama, Passengers, thanks to the comedic abilities of its leads, is funnier than it appears. It’s a schematic film—everything from the inciting incident to the crisis happens by the book—and, in Hollywood fashion, it resists risking utter poignancy. Yet, ultimately, Passengers exceeds our expectations because, by concealing the Twist, the marketers have set us up to watch a movie far more interesting than the one advertised. And that’s rarer than you think.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White