starring Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
written by Jon Spaights
directed by Morten Tyldum
by Walter Chaw The problem with Passengers isn't that it's appalling. The problem with Passengers is that it doesn't have anything to say about being appalling and so proceeds to do stuff with levers and buttons while the lockstep narrative soldiers through to a weird cameo and a happy ending, sort of. Think The Wizard of Oz if it never pulled back the curtain, leaving Dorothy dead and her friends vivisected by an army of newly under-employed flying monkeys on their next impossible mission. It's an artifact that's more interesting, in other words, as an example of corporate groupthink in matters of consumer art--of how Kathleen Kennedy talked about women being "unready" to direct her blockbusters when Morten Tyldum gets the keys to the kingdom for directing mathematicians running around in The Imitation Game (actually, Passengers kind of makes her point), and how retrograde sexual attitudes are still and always the default panic position. Watching it, I was reminded of a brilliant Nell Scovell article published right before the election about how Trump Tower is in a strange state of disrepair: a broken elevator, empty trophy cases, a public garden eternally under construction. There's something about immense hubris we like to see take on water. It's the premise for Douglas Adams's prehistoric PC game "Starship Titanic", where you find yourself the lone entity on a malfunctioning passenger liner. Adams, needless to say, handled it better.