Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence starred in Passengers, an alleged sci-fi romance that glorifies Stockholm syndrome.
Movie trailers try to entice the audience to come out and see the next big thing; sometimes, this is done by giving away all of the best jokes (as with Owen Wilson‘s Marley and Me), and other times, this is accomplished by lying about the movie being advertised. Chris Pratt’s worst film, Passengers, falls under the latter with a trailer that makes it look like a sci-fi romance when it’s a horror film about Stockholm syndrome. The key detail left out of the trailer is that Pratt’s character intentionally woke up Jennifer Lawrence‘s Aurora Lane, condemning her to die onboard the luxury starship.
If you haven’t, take a moment and re-watch the trailer; note the line from Chris Pratt’s Jim Preston, “there’s a reason you woke up early.” The implication is that Aurora has to save the ship somehow, which is why she came out of hypersleep 90 years ahead of schedule. Going by the official trailer, the pair bond and fall in love while dealing with a malfunctioning ship in an action-filled romp similar to a Roland Emmerich film….in space.
All of that is an outright lie covering up the very key plot detail that changes the tone of Passengers so completely that it’s only a romantic movie to everyone that thinks You is a how-to guide for modern dating. Jim Preston is woken out of hypersleep early due to an accident, with the first third of the movie showing how he’s adjusting to life alone with only Michael Sheen‘s robotic bartender as a companion. Eventually, out of loneliness, he becomes obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence’s Aurora, going so far as to purposely sabotage her sleeping pod to wake her up.
If Passengers were from Aurora’s point of view, it would be a horror film culminating in the realization that the man she thought was her savior was her captor. Instead, Chris Pratt gives the worst performance of his career as the increasingly creepy Jim, continuing to act confused over how she was woken up and insisting that they make the best of the situation. Nowhere in the trailer, the official synopsis, or any of the marketing did Sony Pictures hint that there was anything malicious about Jim, which is understandable as that would give away the big twist, but by hiding the truth, it makes the film out to be from a completely different genre.
When I went to see Passengers in the theater, not only did I take stock of my poor life decisions, but I also got to overhear a discussion on my way out of the theater. Two parents were jokingly thanking their teenage son for suggesting they see the film, with the poor boy attempting to defend his choice by saying, “I thought it would be a different type of movie.” Like so many others, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in a film together lured them to the theater, with the trailer making it out to be a bombastic space survival tale, before swerving and turning into an ode to stalking and gaslighting women.
In the years since Passengers was released, Universal Studios was sued over a misleading trailer for the film Yesterday by fans of Ana de Armas, upset that she didn’t appear in the film. While no one has sued Sony for Passengers covering up the creepy tone of the film, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have since distanced themselves from the project. Lawrence agrees with fans that a different edit, following Aurora waking up, would have been much better and leaned into the creepy wish-fulfillment of lonely men that would love to force a beautiful woman to rely only on them for survival.
Though Passengers made lots of money, $300 million worldwide against a budget of $110 million, the critical response was scathing, with critics on Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a 30 percent rotten rating compared to a 63 percent audience score. A few users commented that the film resembles a desert island, asking the audience how they would react in a situation with no hope of survival. Others challenged the conceit by debating the issue of consent while praising the on-screen chemistry between Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.
No matter the reason for being disappointed, either from expecting a disaster film or a romance, everyone agrees that Passengers is not what they expected. Chris Pratt has been in some horrible movies in his career, but none has been as misleading as this film, presenting stalking and gaslighting as the way to win a woman’s heart.