not a twist

Wait, Passengers Is About What?

Photo: Columbia Pictures

At the end of the trailer for Passengers, Chris Pratt tells Jennifer Lawrence, his fellow space traveler on a 120-year voyage to a distant planet, that “there’s a reason” both of them woke up early from suspended animation. An experienced cinemagoer might expect that the trailer is teasing a big reveal. It isn’t. You learn why Jennifer Lawrence woke up early in the movie. In fact, it’s not a twist at all — it’s the premise of the movie. (To be kind to those who prefer to go into movies without any information, we’ll hold off on revealing the not-twist until we’re out of the intro paragraph. But for those wary of reading further, know that this information was available as early as the film’s first casting announcements.)

Okay, so: The reason Jennifer Lawrence woke up early is because Chris Pratt got lonely. Passengers begins with a mysterious malfunction in the sleeping pod of Pratt’s character, Jim Preston, which causes him to wake up 90 years before his spaceship is supposed to arrive on a new interstellar colony. For the first 30 minutes or so, Pratt wanders around the spaceship, trying to make peace with the fact that he’ll die before anyone else wakes up. He bonds with Michael Sheen’s robot bartender. He grows a beard. (Think Castaway, if it took place in an Apple Store.) One day, he sees Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Aurora Lane, asleep in her pod. He watches interviews she taped before setting out on the journey, becomes convinced that they belong together, and despite knowing that she’d also be doomed to die on the ship if he woke her up, he decides to do just that.

Much of what happens next involves the two leads developing a relationship while alone on the ship together, as well as dealing with the technical problems that start to plague the spaceship. Passengers’ trailers have played up the sexy aspects of the film, lingering on shots of Pratt’s chiseled body or Jennifer Lawrence’s bedroom eyes. But despite what the film’s marketing implies, Passengers is really more of a horror movie, especially if you view it from Aurora’s perspective: Her character never asked to take part in the space rom-com that Jim has devised for her, and compounding matters, she doesn’t know that he woke her up on purpose.

Passengers does explore the fact (it’s not really a question) of Aurora’s lack of consent — whether or not it succeeds is a matter for the reviewers. As you can deduce from the trailers, the film also introduces more action elements as the ship starts to malfunction. There are a few actual twists, which we won’t spoil here. But still, this is not exactly the movie you saw advertised, and we simply feel that it’s our duty to inform you that Passengers is darker than it seems. A lot darker. Like, wow.