This is a fairly spoiler-free review in that nothing written is specific. That being said, an intelligent movie viewer will be able to pretty easily make predictions based on what I’ve written, so if you really don’t want the movie spoiled, I might wait until you’ve seen the movie to read below.
From the very first trailer, I was excited to see Passengers. A new, original, sci-fi film starring A-list actors with what looked like a sweet spaceship? Take my money, please.
I don’t think I’m alone in wanting Hollywood to take more chances. I understand the economics of why they don’t, and while I generally enjoy the latest Marvel romp or series reboot, I’ve been really wanting more truly original content from Hollywood as of late. My favorite movies of 2016 were Hell or High Water and Arrival, both stories original to Hollywood.
Needless to say, I was excited by Passengers. If you discount superhero films, we really haven’t had a ton of major sci-fi releases, and I was pumped.
If I had to sum up my thoughts, it would be this: Passengers takes one of the most original and thoughtful beginnings I’ve seen lately, but doesn’t quite have the courage to dive deep into what it starts.
The movie begins with a series of events that, if you’re a lover of sci-fi, will probably strain your disbelief a little. But I’m okay with that, because it sets up a great situation. It’s dark, morally ambiguous, and explores larger societal issues. It was an absolutely fantastic beginning, and I was hooked.
Unfortunately, just as the movie begins to really dive into these issues, the third act becomes typical Hollywood fare, abruptly changing tone from a thoughtful, slow sci-fi piece to an action-filled cliched finale.
I don’t think Passengers deserves its 30% on rotten tomatoes. I still thought it was fine, but I was disappointed because it so easily could have been great.
What worries me more is that it looks like it will be a box office flop, further encouraging studios not to make original sci-fi films.
I hope that’s not true.