Passengers review: In space, no one can hear you scream at your agent

Jennifer Lawrence's gravity holds, but Chris Pratt is about 20 million light years out of his comfort zone in this morally indefensible clunker

Star bores: Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt contemplate a close encounter in “Passengers”.

Film Title: Passengers

Director: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers

Genre: Sci-Fi

Running Time: 116 min

Tue, Dec 20, 2016, 13:54

   

Sorry? Where am I supposed to put this? What am I supposed to do with it?

Morten Tyldum has followed up The Imitation Game with a morally indefensible clunker. Passengers wants to be thought of as a science-fiction film, but the outer space setting is mere decoration for an insanely expensive variation on ancient rom-com templates.

We are dealing with the creaky plot that finds one half of a couple living a terrible lie that, 20 minutes before the end, will be revealed and cause convulsion before bridges are rebuilt. You know the sort of thing. Rock Hudson is really the guy sharing Doris Day’s party line. Jean Arthur is really an investigative reporter. Chris Pratt murders Jennifer Lawrence, then digs up her decomposing body and asks her out on a date.

I exaggerate only slightly. When Lawrence discovers the truth, she really does accuse Pratt of killing her. Here’s what happens.

Chris and Jen are in suspended animation on a spaceship heading for a distant colony. Chris is woken up by accident some 90 years before the vessel is due to arrive. He spends a year moping. Then, after browsing the video manifest, he elects to wake a pretty blonde writer and shag her (the last bit is not stated explicitly, to be fair). Since there is no way of re-entering animation, he has condemned her to a life lived on the lonely space ship.

The drama would be a tiny bit less sick-making if the roles were reversed. Lawrence just about avoids embarrassment, but Pratt is no longer in the same solar system as his comfort zone. A character actor effective as the second guy to the left, he looks utterly stranded in a role that requires a degree of existential despair.

In addition, the closing catastrophe is perfunctory. There is not a taste of transcendence in a supposedly romantic space walk. Michael Sheen is wasted as a robotic version of the barman from The Shining.

A vacuum without. A vacuum within.