‘Passengers’ review: Book a trip elsewhere

The 2016 space bore-dessy “Passengers” raises probing questions, such as what steps would you take to avoid loneliness? Or why does Hollywood continually muck up a decent premise?

The most pressing question, though, pertains to athletic clothing, as in where in the hell can I buy the nifty line of attire Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt look so positively fine in?

Their charcoal-grey, sexy wardrobe is more enticing than anything else in this homogenized, big-budget holiday release, which comes bearing a few gifts  – sensual production design and capable special effects — but can’t persevere over an uneventful, downright tired screenplay that plugs into obviousness after passing the 30-minute mark.

The story has potential, with the leads doing their darndest to sell its half-there premise. Pratt’s easygoing appeal snugly fits the role of Jim Preston, a futuristic traveler whose premature hibernation pod problems shake him awake 90 years too soon on a long journey to a nirvana-like planet. Meanwhile, his fellow travelers doze on with visions of settling a less populated world dancing in their heads.

At first it’s not terrible for a mechanical engineer like Jim to be alone, as he tinkers with the system, goofs off and makes a frat-boy mess out of  a lavish Las Vegas-style suite. But after awhile, Jim feels lonely and wants the pleasure of more company than that of the sassy android bartender (Michael Sheen, so good per usual). Enter feisty journalist Aurora Lane (Lawrence) and soon the two dance, romance and swim a lot since there’s not much in this narrative pond.

Given that Pratt and Lawrence have such kinetic chemistry, it’s a shame the promising commentary early on about crass commercialism is never fully fired and the script plays it numbingly safe, cranking out a blase, gotta-get-it-done action/romance finale that requires the stars to shout out “Watch O-U-T”  with as many exclamation points as they can muster. It’s all for naught.

Director Morten (“The Imitation Game”) Tyldum gives it his best shot, but even his tutelage comboed with an unexpected pop-up appearance from the most welcome Laurence Fishburne can’t propel this derivative exercise into orbit.

It’s not a total loss, really. That activewear/loungewear might just be available for purchase somewhere in the internet universe.


2 stars

1 hour, 56 minutes

PG-13 (for sexuality, nudity and action/peril)

Opens tonight at area theaters

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