Part of the problem with “Passengers” is how it tells its story. The movie’s first act is pretty slack; there’s never any reason to doubt that Jim will eventually wake Aurora up as the possibility of being by himself the rest of his life — save for Arthur, the robot bartender played by Michael Sheen — takes a heavy toll on his mental well-being. As others have noted (including the video essayist Evan Puschak), telling the story from Aurora’s perspective would’ve added an element of suspense and mystery, making the film much more engaging as it gradually reveals the truth about what Jim did. Putting us in Aurora’s shoes would also make the horror of her situation hit that much harder.

The other issue is that “Passengers” desperately wants a happy ending. The film’s second half introduces an exterior threat for Jim and Aurora to team up against, giving Jim the chance to redeem himself. It’s both a contrived excuse to bring the plot to a climax and an unsatisfying way of justifying the movie’s deeply problematic romance. A gutsier film might have gone the way of “Vertigo,” acknowledging that its male lead’s behavior is unsettling and disturbing before ending on a darker and tragic note. (For those who are curious, the ending from an earlier script draft of “Passengers” wasn’t much better.)

What’s frustrating about “Passengers” is that it’s an original big-budget picture with the makings of a thoughtful adult story (exactly what film enthusiasts have been begging for more of), yet the execution is painfully mishandled. Sometimes, the initial backlash against a movie isn’t justified; it’s only with time and distance that they come to be properly re-evaluated. Sorry to say, though, that’s just not the case here. Per usual, Adele was right.



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