The Badness of “Passengers”

SPOILERS FOR PASSENGERS

Passengers, directed by Morten Tyldum, the same man behind 2014’s The Imitation Game, is a love story set in space. This film got a lot of hype leading up to the release. I found it quite weird that the film got as much hype as it got, because to me it didn’t speak at all. The film looked rather clichéd and unoriginal without any depth to anything. The only reason I can come up with why the film was so hyped is because of the two leads.

Now to point out one of the flaws of this film already starts with the marketing. The trailers made it look like it was going to mainly focus on the romance between Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, the two leads. But this isn’t entirely the case. The entire first act of the film is about a man dealing with loneliness and struggling with the decision of waking up another passenger, so he won’t be alone again. This dilemma I found to be a pretty interesting subject and it also brought something to the character of Chris Pratt. It helped to mold his character into something else.   So when this dilemma was brought up, I was pretty surprised because as stated before I wasn’t really expecting much depth. Overall it wasn’t executed perfectly, but at least it was better as I thought it would be.

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Chris Pratt in “Passengers” – 2016

But when Chris Pratt has made his decision, the film goes down the spiral of never ending clichés. Each minute the film gets worse and worse and at the end of the film, it has gotten horrible. That’s the point the worst parts start to come, as Chris Pratt “sacrifices” himself for love, but doesn’t really, like in every drama-romance film. It wasn’t really a surprised that he lived.

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Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in “Passengers” – 2016

And that’s the way that I want to move over to the part I want to talk about the most in this article: clichés. I want to mainly focus on clichés, because that’s where the badness lays of Passengers, hence the title and maybe the new ongoing category.
Clichés have been around since pretty much the beginning of film and throughout the years new clichés have developed themselves. Because of this, it isn’t much of a deal if a movie contains clichés; it would even be weird if a film doesn’t contain any at all. But more than often a lot of films nowadays primarily consist out of previously told or written things, in which it was done probably better. They re-use character arcs, or story arcs, or even complete stories. It only creates unoriginal films that are quite boring as well, because we’ve seen these things before. But a lot of times it’s very tempting to reach for these clichés because they’ve become so easy to do. In Passengers this is exactly the problem. It’s hard to write an engaging love story that’s interesting and appealing to a wide audience. So to solve that problem the writer went to the book of over-used clichés and utilized them in his film, to make it more “accessible” for a bigger audience. But by doing so the film became less original and also less good. It suffers immensely from this decision.  To prove my point I’ll sum up a few clichés that can be found in a clichéd filled film and that you’ll need to create your own “amazing” romantic drama! Here are some things you’ll need:

  • Have two good-looking leads, in this case Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt
  • Have something happen whereby one of the two gets angry with the other one, but of course after a while they are good friends again, like nothing happens. In this film it’s when Jennifer Lawrence realizes that she was woken up early by Chris Pratt and gets angry about it, which is totally logical. But after a while she just seemed to forget about it.

The following points sort of follow each other up:

  • Have the “I’m not leaving you behind” – scene or something similar to that line. This is when Chris Pratt wants to sacrifice himself, so that Lawrence can live.
  • Do not forget to insert a scene in which one of them sacrifices himself/herself (Pratt goes out to manually open the gate and has to keep it open by himself, because the gate would close if he didn’t keep on pulling the lever)
  • And of course make have said character survive that, but don’t forget to let your audience think for a couple of minutes that the character has died, or is going to die. Here Pratt survives huge temperatures and gets blown into space, but Lawrence can save him just in time, because what would a romantic film be like, without a romantic ending?

 

These are just a few of the cliché story tribes this film follows. There are plenty of more, but by now I believe that this I’ve proven my point.
Passengers does contain some good aspects, don’t get me wrong, but it was mostly outweighed by the bad aspects. And this article is mainly meant to focus at the bad aspects of a film, in comparison to my The Brilliance of___ category, in which I praise certain aspects of a film. That’s also the reason why I think that these articles aren’t reviews, because in a review you both tell the good and the bad of a film, and here I just focus on one or the other.

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