Jennifer Lawrence Controversial Sci-Fi Movie Doesn’t Deserve All The Hate

By Christopher Isaac | Published

Everyone has that flawed movie that they will defend. For me, that movie is Passengers, the 2016 sci-fi movie that arguably damaged the star power of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in ways that they are still recovering from. Most audience members hated it and found its message unconscionable, but I think a lot of people may have just struggled to reconcile the moral struggle that the filmmakers were aiming to convey.

Jennifer Lawrence In Passengers

For those unfamiliar, Passengers is about life aboard a ship transporting thousands of people away from a dying Earth to a new planet to live on. It will take over a century to get there, so everyone is preserved in stasis pods that leave them asleep for the entire journey…except for a man named Jim.

Passengers starts when Jim’s pod malfunctions, and he is the only one who wakes up many decades before the arrival of the new planet. He can’t put himself back in stasis and is doomed to die completely alone. The thought of that becomes too much for him, so he finally wakes up another person from stasis, Aurora.

Unfair Passengers Criticism

jennifer lawrence chris pratt passengers

Many critics of Passengers erroneously refer to it as basically being like a romantic comedy, but I don’t see how anyone could say that in good faith.

Yes, Jim and Aurora fall in love, but only because he lies to her about what he did. And when she finds out, she finds him reprehensible, views him as a murderer, and is so furious she nearly kills him in his sleep as revenge.

The movie very clearly does not present Jim’s choice as an okay thing.

Chris Pratt’s Character Does The Right Thing

chris pratt

Jim only earns Aurora’s forgiveness after he sacrifices his life to fix the ship when it becomes damaged and is on the verge of killing everyone on board.

Jim is clinically dead, but Aurora sees his selfless act and revives him in the medical bay. Seeing his capacity to care for others, she falls back in love with him, and they spend the remainder of their lives together. Critics hated Passengers for this.

The Key Passengers Question


Many felt it let Jim off the hook for taking Aurora’s choice away. But Passengers clearly shows the anguish Jim goes through before this, trying so hard to resist the temptation and even teetering on killing himself instead.

The core question at Passengers asks us, what would you do if the only way to end your loneliness was to have someone else join you?

And could such a choice ever be forgiven? Passengers isn’t a fun romantic comedy, but a movie posing a morally complex scenario.

From A Different Perspective?


Many fans felt Passengers could have been improved if the movie had started from Aurora’s perspective of waking up to meet Jim, only to have him being the reason for her waking up be a plot twist. Some felt the movie should have ended with Jim dying, but then Aurora facing the same scenario of facing life alone or having to wake up someone else.

Personally, I just feel the movie was misunderstood. Jennifer Lawrence was a rising star hot off The Hunger Games and X-Men, and Chris Pratt had just done Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. Passengers definitely dinged both of their star powers, but I think audiences just weren’t interested in grappling with the movie’s actual message.

Streaming Passengers

alien passengers


I would give Passengers a 3 out of 5 stars. Its story is an interesting thought experiment, but it definitely could have been handled better to deliver its message more clearly.

Obviously, the moral conflict was not driven home enough for many audience members, who felt that Jim did not earn his redemption by the end. But imagining myself in his position of spending a lifetime alone or having others join me, I do have to wonder if I would be able to hold out or if the loneliness would be so great that I would not be able to resist anymore.