Passengers is a star-driven, big-budget monstrosity. Other than a fun supporting turn from Michael Sheen and a handful of cool concepts (that way better films will hopefully steal one day), this film failed creatively on nearly every level.
The story centers around a man on an interstellar journey (played soullessly by Chris Pratt) who accidentally gets awoken a year into what is supposed to be a 90 year trip. Naturally, this damages his mental state considerably, and he eventually awakens a woman on purpose (played with the usual dutiful boredom that Jennifer Lawrence generally brings to the table in the X-Men films) after a year of living by himself on a space ship. As Lawrence’s character tells him later on in the film, Pratt’s character is choosing to murder her by making this choice.
Pratt basically plays a lonely stalker who convinces himself that Lawrence is destined to be his life partner and thus it’s his only chance for happiness on this space ship. He was initially attracted to her due to her striking beauty and then watched a series of interviews she gave for the journey. It felt like some bizarre metaphor for Twitter Eggs harassing attractive women on social media and claiming that they are destined to be together.
Two huge storyline issues arise from this concept. The first was that this story was told from the perspective of the actual stalker so that he could be more easily empathized with. That is incredibly fucked up for what should be obvious reasons.
The second issue was that the victim of this stalker behavior’s arc concludes with her falling in love with her attacker. By the end of the film, she actively chooses to remain with her stalker instead of getting a second chance at a hibernation pod that could allow her to complete her journey. Once again, it should not be hard to understand why that notion is incredibly fucked up.
With this foundation, there was basically no way for this film succeed on a narrative level. Perpetuating dangerous myths about abusive relationships in order to create more empathy for the abusers is reckless at best and insidious at worst. The only silver lining is that apparently everyone in the country agreed to just not see the film.