A ‘Passengers’ Rant
Would you like a completely accurate summation of the movie Passengers in one image? Here you go.
What the ever-loving fuck did I just witness? I mean, I’ve seen some offensive or problematic movies before, but Passengers is genuinely baffling me because of the artistic choices that were made. First off, I want you to understand above all that the problem is not the actors’ fault. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence actually do have chemistry and it should have clicked and fit well. Hell, the reason I was gonna give this movie a try on my own before the epic backlash hit was because those are two actors that I love who are charismatic and likable and I’d have certainly enjoyed a film with them exclusively together.
However, this is going go down in history as one of the most offensive bait-and-switch situations between a misleading trailer and the actual product. Now, I can give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that maybe after the finished product was done and the initial reactions from the test audience came back, the movie studio panicked and decided to market it in a way to hide the utterly disgusting choice that Jim makes that actually creates the conflict in the film. Well, too bad, so sad. You let this psychopath write this script and make this movie with this horrifying theme and if you thought it wouldn’t do well, then you should have pulled the plug. I don’t know what kind of problems they might have had during production, but this is unacceptable.
Let me paint you the picture of what you would have had to endure, should you have seen this film.
There’s a ship flying to a new planet. The trip takes 120 years, so everyone is in hyper-sleep. About thirty years into the trip, a huge asteroid hits the ship and causes small malfunctions, one of which is a single pod opening. The passenger, Jim, races around trying to find a way to either fix it or go back to sleep, but he can’t. He spends a year or so alone and hits a low point before stumbling across the pod of Aurora (*cue massive fucking cliché eye-roll*). He looks up her info and finds her interesting and does that gross thing in movies where he falls in love with the sleeping woman and suddenly his needs mean more than hers, so he decides to wake her up. He omits the part where he woke her up so that she can die with him and courts her, but eventually she finds out and is of course furious. Meanwhile, the ship’s larger functions start failing one by one and one of the crew members accidentally wakes up as well. The crew member tells them which systems to try and fix before he dies and they fix the ship. They also figure out that there is a medical pod that can basically induce a type of hyper-sleep for one of them, but in the end they both choose to live the rest of their lives out on the ship together.
If you’re feeling vomit climb up the back of your throat, that’s great. That means you still have a conscience and a soul. Hold onto that, please.
Is that not the most disgusting fucking thing that’s ever been positively portrayed in a film since the faux-relationship between Leto!Joker and Robbie!Harley in Suicide Squad? It’s fucking heinous. It’s inexcusable. It’s completely not okay, and yet the movie seems to think that it’s romantic and they were overcoming the odds to be in “love” with each other by the end of the movie.
This is not okay.
First of all, the reasoning is not strong enough for Jim’s horrifically selfish decision. Yeah, being alone for 90 years on a ship with only a robot for a friend would be a hell no one should endure, but guess what? There is no reason for you to drag someone down with you. I’m not saying that this kind of ethical dilemma hasn’t been done before, but I have never seen a movie that puffs out its chest and acts like the ends justify the means. In the movie Interstellar (spoiler alert) Matt Damon’s character couldn’t stand dying alone on a barren world and so he called the other astronauts down to save him, but the movie makes it 100% clear that he was WRONG and he paid for that selfish act with his life. Hell, that was one of the most satisfying uses of the F-word in a PG-13 film that I’ve ever seen in my entire life. (“You fucking coward.”) Furthermore, even Matt Damon’s character admits he was a coward. Owen apologizes, but it never hits home because there is no sorry. There is no apology for literally murdering Aurora for his own selfish reasons. She is rightfully furious when she finds out, but the fucking movie actually has her forgive him and choose to spend her life at his side as his wife.
Fuck. You. Sideways.
How dare you take her choice away. How dare you try to redeem this character. It doesn’t matter. The second Jim makes that choice, the audience mentally checks out because there is no redemption at that point. No one cares that he ends up saving the ship. It would have been better for them all to die on that ship together than for him to choose one person to die against their will because there was no way to put them back in the pods. It’s not possible to redeem that character.
And the baffling part is that this didn’t have to happen. The premise is actually fine the way it was presented in the trailer. If it had just been two random people waking up and having to accept their own deaths, but then they come together to fix the ship and save 5,000 people, then it would have been a fantastic movie. It could have been a deep character study and a subversion of the “fated to be together” trope. Imagine it. Imagine a sci-fi movie where two people are isolated together, and they start to like each other, but then encounter the natural conflict of a relationship. Imagine that they break up, but they’re all each other has. Imagine that they break up for simple reasons that people do. That could have been extremely interesting, to see the relationship start from scratch and then develop over time, fall apart, but then when the ship is in danger, they forgive each other and start anew. That could have been a fantastic movie.
Alternatively, if you’re a cynical person, then I have an acceptable way to keep the premise the way they wrote it without that foul ending. So Jim does wake up Aurora and she finds out the truth, and then the whole rest of the movie is her trying to murder him out of revenge. How fucking great would that have been? It would have given her agency, it would have given her excellent characterization as she unwound with rage and revenge, and it could give her the chance to redeem herself as she chose whether or not to kill him or let him live and just accept her fate without becoming the piece of slime that he was for waking her up.
What a fucking waste. That’s what Passengers is. A waste of time, talent, and an utterly reprehensible message that it’s okay to doom someone else for your own selfish reasons, and that you will in fact be rewarded for such actions.
I’ve tried to theorize if this movie would be less of an eye-sore if the genders had been flipped, but no, it’s just insulting either way. Granted, it might have been slightly more interesting if it had been Aurora who woke up Jim because it seems like the film leans on the “men are lonely and horny” trope pretty hard and I wonder if she would have held out longer with the decision to wake him up, but the fact remains the same. This is a blight on cinema. You cannot make a movie like this where a despicable act is portrayed as something positive. That is not love. There was no consent. There was no choice. And it’s worse because it involves two actors that I adore and I want to see them in projects that are worthy of their time. This movie is unworthy of anyone’s time or interest. It’s frankly one of the most offensive things I’ve seen in years and while I am sad that Pratt and Lawrence will have a box office flop, I am glad this movie is in the shitter because that’s what it is. A foul-smelling turd that should be quickly and quietly flushed down the toilet.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the Magical Negro trope they played completely straight with Laurence Fishburne.
Avoid this movie at all cost, chilluns. Don’t look back. You deserve better.