Shot in the dull grey light of a wintry British Columbia, this is an uneven film that shifts from saccharine romance with a spiritual edge to supernatural suspense thriller – never managing to find a consistent tone nor push beyond its safe and melodramatic borders. And although it features the talented Anne Hathaway, Passengers had a very poor run in the USA, and is now on a limited release in cinemas before moving to DVD next month.
The passengers in question are a handful of survivors of a plane crash who are put in the care of psychotherapist Dr. Claire Summers (Hathaway). Claire tries hard to help the group remember what happened on that fateful day, but the trauma appears to have had strange effects on the survivors. One of them is Eric (Patrick Wilson), a good-looking and affable character who seems strangely energised by the crash. He is less interested in the therapy sessions than he is in Claire herself, and he tempts her to live a little. Whilst attracted by his boyish charm, Claire believes Eric is masking his true feelings about the crash, and cannot ignore his sometimes odd behaviour, and his uncanny ability to read her mind. When others from the group disappear, and a member of the airline tries to stop her from carrying out any further investigations, Claire starts to believe that there’s a cover-up at work. As Claire’s attraction to Eric grows stronger, she starts to discover the real truth of what has happened.
It’s hard to imagine that all involved in the film couldn’t have seen the problems on the page. Debut feature writer Ronnie Christensen sets this up as a supernatural mystery but can’t sustain the idea – opting for the easy route of boy-meets-girl as compensation. When he does return to the question of what has happened – which anyone who has seen films like The Others or The Sixth Sense will have guessed well before the answer is disclosed – he is too much of a nice guy to chill us to the core with his big reveal. It’s all syrupy pap instead.
Director Rodrigo Garcia seems uninspired by the material too, and lets the cast play out their roles in a hazy glow of indifference. Hathaway and Wilson are very watchable but many of their lines are lifeless. Claire’s interactions with her patients in particular, seem to come straight from the Hollywood guide to psychobabble. Overall, whilst it does have some tender moments, some spooky moments, and a good-looking couple at its centre, you’d be better off taking a different flight.