Sony // 2009 // 93 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 27th, 2009
The line between this world and next is about to be crossed.
Anne Hathaway (Bride Wars) saddles up for this tedious little psychological thriller about dead people and plane crashes.
The film begins with said plane crash, and a crack psychotherapist named Claire Summers (Hathaway) is dispatched to counsel the survivors. Among them is a man who freaks out about weirdo visions he's been experiencing. As he and Claire draw closer over the course of the therapy, a passionate affair erupts between them, endangering Claire's work.
But that's not The Big News. The Big News is what's happening to the rest of the survivors. They are vanishing one by one and Claire begins to suspect that a shifty representative from the airline (David Morse) might be behind it.
I'll stop there. If I go any further, I'm in spoiler territory and Passengers is the kind of movie that generates all of its suspense and tension from the promise of a big-ass twist at the end. You can just feel it. The moody, atmospheric, foreboding music, the enigmatic visions, the characters reacting in increasingly bizarre ways, it's all pointing to a massive twist-a-roo.
There is a reveal, and it is big. Is it worth sitting through the tedium of the 80 or so minutes required to make it to the rabbit in the hat? Nah. First off, the revelations that spill forth aren't terribly surprising. If while you're watching this story unfold and you begin to default to, say, The Sixth Sense, I wouldn't be surprised. Your instincts will serve you well when the climax rolls around.
The filmmakers really stretch out the ending as well, coughing up buckets of exposition -- too much really -- as it tends to feel like they were overcompensating out of maybe guilt for subjecting viewers to such a slow haul. Sorry, fellahs, but it doesn't work. Even if we're looking at one of the greatest twist endings in the history of cinema -- um, we're not -- I still don't reckon it being enough to forgive the tortuous pace.
The acting isn't bad, though performances are tagged with less value than the plot. Hathaway is okay as the main prism through which the film's goofy events are blasted through and Patrick Wilson as her counterpart supplements nicely as the free spirited romantic. Morse is, sadly, criminally underused.
If you're interested in plowing forward, Sony has a nice DVD waiting for you. The 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is dark, but visually clean. Both 5.1 tracks (English and French) do the aural job well. Extras: some disposable deleted scenes, director's commentary, a nice making-of documentary and a featurette on the executing the plane crash.
Slow-moving and unsatisfying in its culmination, Passengers represents why I am typically skeptical of "psychological terror" films: they're ass-boring.
Guilty. I would like to disembark, please. Please?
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes