The movie “Passengers” is a slick science fiction tale which is typically heavy on the science and light on the fiction. The budget must have been blown on special effects, which are wondrously wonderful, because the cast is limited to a grand total of four. The minimalist cast does however heighten the sense of isolation amidst thousands of clearly visible but still hibernating and thus inaccessible fellow colonists.
The story is insidiously attractive to anyone with the slightest sense of scientific curiosity about a novel vision of the world with predictably unforeseen difficulties. The plot, of course, displays a grand vision of human technological prowess even when it goes wrong as stalwart souls struggle to survive but, of course, eventually succeed again demonstrating mankind’s well-deserved place as masters of the cosmos.
The story involves an interstellar colonization ship which malfunctions awakening one poor soul too early by about one or two human lifetimes. Out of a desperate longing for companionship, he chooses a likely soul mate from the passenger manifest to share his fate. But the love story flounders along many fault lines not the least of which are isolation, lost dreams, betrayal, and the divertingly scrumptious, if somewhat lonely, surroundings.
Unfortunately, but fortunately for resurrecting the increasingly moribund plot, the original technical malfunctions multiply out of control. And the couple must struggle to save the other passengers, the ship, and themselves. The final scenes are short on imagination and barely tie all the loose ends together. But in defense, the movie is rational given the implicit assumptions and finds little need to invoke out of context overly-surprising solutions. All in all, this is an interesting movie mostly for the special effects, the novel ideas and frustrations of interstellar travel, and the all too occasional moments of fleeting human warmth.