Passengers is a movie that should not have been made when the creators first realized that the flawed story concept could not be overcome by even the biggest of budgets and the brightest of stars. However, that said—other than the second (or third?) ridiculous climactic scene—Passengers is a movie that mostly works in its first two-thirds because of the strength and charisma of its two stars.
Chris Pratt is an incredibly watchable movie star and following him alone on a large space craft on its way to a new inhabitable planet is quite fun. Jennifer Lawrence—for all of her annoying flaws—is an unbelievable talent and is always compelling and fetching on screen. Their chemistry is very strong. In fact, if Passengers was just a small movie about two charismatic people dating on a space ship while everyone else remained in hibernation, it would have been cute and unique.
As is likely obvious, Passengers devolves into a CG mess and centers on a moral quandary that is so prickly and morbid it shifts the tone and director Morten Tyldum is never able to recover. The last thing we needed was another space movie with a scene where a character, near death of course, is floating in the black ether while another tries to save him by grasping at his space suit’s tether just out of reach.
If Passengers’ ethical center had the touch of say, a Phillip K. Dick novella, it could have been interesting. The big studios hope the audience doesn’t notice the disorder and is distracted by the fiery explosions and the pretty stars.