New Logo riveting riffs magazine  Jennifer Lawrence is Brilliant in Passengers
Passengers Photo One

Passengers Photo TwoPassengers has pretty well everything you could hope for in a movie, drama, suspense, humor and romance. The storyline at times can be a little predictable, but the ending not necessarily so. Aurora Lane (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) are two of 5,000 passengers on a ship. The hitch is they are all on a spaceship, the voyage takes 120 years from earth to a distant planet or moon where they will establish a colony called Homestead II and all of the passengers and crew are in stasis or hibernating. That makes sense or they would all die before they reach the colony. Things do not go as planned however and without giving away too much of the storyline Jim’s pod decides he should wake up thirty years into the trip. He is the only one that is awake. What to do? He still has 90 more years before he reaches Homestead II and unless he discovers that someone has stashed onboard the fountain of youth, he is not going to be around to see Homestead II.

As Jim explores the ship, Avalon, he takes dance lessons from holographic images, dines in fancy restaurants served by robots and he plays basketball in simulated games with holographic crowds. He discovers Arthur the android bartender and they become buddies, well sort of. When Jim tries to talk to Arthur about his loneliness and the dilemma he faces about whether or not to wake up a beautiful woman he accidentally discovered in another pod, Arthur simply does not have the ability to understand, after all he is a machine, no matter how much he looks like a regular bartender. When Jim peeks over the bar he also discovers that Arthur does not have any legs.

Jennifer Lawrence is superb in her role as journalist and author Aurora Lane. Lawrence’s ability to subtlety project strong emotions of sadness, anger and love with and at other times with boldness, such as the scene when she pushes everything off of the table and crawls across it on her knees to kiss Jim (Pratt) provide substantial testament as to why she is rumored to be the highest paid actress in the world right now. Often times in the acting profession the talent of beautiful women gets overlooked, because of their beauty, but anyone who is overlooking Jennifer Lawrence’s acting ability in this film is simply not paying attention.

What is also encouraging and once again we will avoid going into too much detail, so we do not spoil the movie for our readers, but what is refreshing about this movie is that Jennifer Lawrence emerges as the hero and the script allows it to unfold in a believable manner. Young women growing up today deserve to see women in hero type roles, just as often as young boys have that experience.

It is difficult to tell whether the onus lies with the director, the script or the actor, but at times Chris Pratt’s performance comes across as somewhat wooden. He does well with the action scenes and with other scenes that involve physical activity, but he lacks believability, beyond what the script calls for, when he is portraying a man who feels lonely or marooned. Even when Aurora comes out of hibernation there is something missing from the sense of anticipation and later when he falls in love with Aurora the actor’s ability to project deep heartfelt emotion. In the scenes where both the ship and their lives are in danger the subtle physical and facial expressions of fear simply are not there.

Michael Sheen does a great job of playing Arthur and perfectly balances android with humanity, while still managing to inject personality to his character, sometimes through nothing more than a raised eyebrow or a look.

In listening to Michael Sheen talk about the contraption that they put him in for the film, with his knees resting in pads and his back attached to a steel rod and only having limited use of his arms, it sounds painful at worst and incredibly uncomfortable at best. However, Sheen gives credit to the technical staff for making the situation as comfortable as possible and he talks about how there was a track that allowed him to move up and down the bar.

Laurence Fishburne in his role as Gus, one of the members of the crew is, well he is Laurence Fishburne and that is a very good thing. He is magnificent in his role.

An interesting sidebar to this sci-fi movie is the fact that no CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) was used in this film. There was however eight miles of LED lighting used for the movie.

Perhaps director Morten Tyldum provides the best commentary concerning what the film Passengers is all about, “It is not your basic sci-fi story. It is a human story, it is a character story. It has drama and it has humor. It is about falling in love and it is about making tough decisions and it is about relationships.

There are so few characters in the movie that having both Jennifer and Chris was important. They are amazing actors and they are so charismatic. They loved the characters and they became Jim and Aurora. They just explode on screen and they were just amazing.”

Passengers is well worth you spending your money on. Perhaps some of you are thinking that you do not like science fiction films, but you can lay that fear aside, because the issues and themes of this movie are so intriguing and entertaining that the fact it is also a science fiction film will no longer be a concern to you.

You can watch the Sony Pictures trailer for Passengers here.                     Return to Our Front Page

This review by Joe Montague  published January 1st, 2017 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All images are the property of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. for promotional use only, sale, duplication or transfer of this material is strictly prohibited. This review may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine, All Rights Reserved