Passengers is not the awful science-fiction film you have heard about, but it can be difficult to assimilate. The ever-likable Chris Pratt stars as mechanical engineer James “Jim” Preston (a nod to sci-fi’s greatest hero, Jim Kirk?), a passenger on a luxury space liner heading to an off-world colony who wakes up 90 years too early. After a year spent interacting solely with an android bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen), Jim decides to wake up/condemn another passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), to life spent in space.
Passengers’ difficulty arises in Jim’s monstrous decision, and the film, directed by The Imitation Game’s Morten Tyldum and written by Jon Spaihts, never quite condemns him for it. But a lot of great science fiction rises out of such moral quandaries. Passengers excels as well-produced science fiction. The first act creates a terrific, terrible sci-fi scenario; the second act is the make or break point for whether or not you accept the film’s decision; act three disappointingly dips into space-disaster territory, with decidedly pedestrian results. At least the first two acts asked sci-fi-worthy questions; whether or not you can accept the film’s answer will wholly affect your response to it.