Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt may have brought electricity to the screen in their signature roles in dystopian worlds and other galaxies as well as our own, even picking up Oscars along the way, but even they can’t sell the bone-tired familiarity of Passengers. It has an unshakeable sense that there’s surely a chance this is a remake of a kitshy 70s space opera that plays frequently on late-night TV, for you can see every twist ten steps ahead. It’s not a question of what specifically influenced the film, instead how many times it’s been done before. It’s Lost in Space, Star Trek, Moon; even an adult version of Silversun, that show on the ABC in the early 2000s; and on and on. Even before that, it’s the granddaddy of them all – 2001: A Space Odyssey.
To traverse such well-trodden, borrowed land, one must have some kind of tweak, something unfamiliar and dynamic to try. Since there’s no HAL (though there is a robotic bartender played by Michael Sheen who may look like he will fit that bill, but ends up just being another body for Lawrence and Pratt to bounce off), mysterious government influence by way of clones or disease, or attempts at commentary on class divides, the responsibility lies in the gravitational pull between the two, which is non-existent. They play an if we were the last two surviving people on the planet situation, the unlucky (or lucky?) ones that wake up 90 years before they’re meant to, left to drink their lives away until sparks inevitably fly out of loneliness. Despite the concerted attempts, multiple trysts where both are stripped bare and filmed from the angles to ensure maximum heat, the flame fizzles out, leaving the next 80-or-so years (or the next two hours) in the dark.