Rodrigo Garcia's Passengers is the sort of mystery/thriller whose success hinges on the effective execution of its final act reveal, and, as such, critiquing the film without giving away its ending is rather difficult. The ending is really all the film has going for it, but, seeing as how I can't speak of it, I'm left with no choice but to prattle on about the other agonizingly slow 80 or so minutes that potential viewers will be forced to sit through before the film actually gets good.
Clare Summers (Anne Hathaway) is a therapist assigned to help a group of plane crash survivors get over the grief, fear, and shock of their ordeal. One particular passenger, Eric (Watchmen's Patrick Wilson), proves an odd case, however, as his behavior is quite different than the other survivors. Clare is at first fascinated by Eric, but soon begins to fall for him, and, when the two become romantically entwined, Anne loses all sense of objectivity. Compounding her ethical dilemma is the fact that her "survivor's group" is rapidly dwindling, with members seemingly falling off the grid, while the shady airline rep, Arkin (the always awesome David Morse) seems to be doing his damndest to sweep all of this under the rug. As the question of what actually happened on the plane gives way to what's happening to the passengers in the crash's aftermath, Clare finds answers both shocking and unbelievable, with the charming Eric at their core.
Astute viewers will figure out Passengers' twist fairly early on, but it's still an effective one regardless, and almost redeems what is otherwise a ploddingly paced and ironically lifeless slice of melodramatic, Lifetime Movie of the Week cheese. Hathaway, Morse, and Wilson all do their best in relatively thankless roles, while a solid supporting cast - including Andre Braugher, Dianne Weist, and Clea DuVall - are wasted, reduced to underdeveloped caricatures lost in a muddled story that can't decided whether it wants to be a romantic thriller, supernatural chiller, or conspiracy potboiler. Garcia's film looks quite lovely, with an appropriately dreamy visual motif, but too much time is wasted on developing the atmosphere, and not enough spent on the characters, themselves.
Passengers lands on Blu-ray with a really nice and lush transfer that boasts exceptional detail, and rich, wonderful colors. Blacks are deep and luxurious, with no hint of grain or artifacture, while skin tones are pleasant and natural. Sony, as always, does a fine job porting one of their films over to their HD format. Sadly, the film doesn't live up to the treatment.
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is a really quiet affair, but is quite expressive when it needs to be. Dialogue is crisp and front and center, while surrounds deliver a nice assortment of discrete effects ranging from clacking footsteps to crackling fire. The booming base makes itself known whenever we are thrown back into the crash, itself, while the moody piano score is rich and organic. It's a fourstar treatment for a two star film.
Supplements are a bit scarce, but, seeing as how the film hardly merits 'special edition' treatment, what we're given is actually a lot more than I expected.
Toplining the features is a staid but solid track by Lopez and star, Patrick Wilson, in which the two dissect the characters, take delight in the bits of foreshadowing scattered throughout the film, and, ultimately, seem to have a much better time watching the film than I did.
Two short featurettes (presented in 1080p) include the EPK In the Night Sky, which features lots of enthusiastic interviews, clips, and all of the other ingredients one would expect from a fluff promo piece, while the more interesting Analysis of a Plane Crash looks at the orchestration of the film's fateful crash, the effects , and Lopez' vision as to how it should appear on camera.
Trailers for other Sony releases and BD Live functionality round out the extras.
While Passengers certainly didn't live up to its potential, it's still a reasonably entertaining diversion best suited for rainy Sunday afternoon viewing. The quality Blu-ray presentation by Sony does go a long way toward making up for the film's many deficiencies, however I'm still hard-pressed to recommend this one as anything more than a rental.