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PASSENGERS
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson, David Morse, Andre Braugher, Clea DuVall, Dianne Wiest
Director: Rodrigo Garcia
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Sony
Features: See Review
Length: 93 Minutes
Release Date: May 12, 2009

ďWhy didnít you tell me?Ē

ďItís not the sort of thing you can be told.Ē

Film **

I remember seeing the trailer for Passengers last fall. It looked like a most promising dramatic thriller, and I always look forward to any movie where I can gaze upon the angelic beauty that is Anne Hathaway. But strangely enough, despite being a major studio release with star power, it barely even got a limited theatrical release. Having now seen the film, I can honestly say us theatergoers didnít really miss much.

Watching a film like can be quite frustrating on a first viewing, and for two entirely different reasons. The story is about someone trying to piece together a mystery involving the disappearances of several plane crash survivors, so youíll either be worn out from getting wrapped up in the scenario or youíll just be frustrated by the notion that a plot twist is destined to arrive late in the film to explain everything. I was in the latter mind frame, although I will admit the revelation itself was well executed and almost saved the movie.

Though as it stands, the film feels like an odd mix of three specific films; The Sixth Sense, Fearless and Final Destination. In the time leading up to the neat plot twist, we are subjected to a story that for the most part isnít balanced properly. It shifts way too often between being a therapeutic drama, a tense thriller and a love story.

Claire Summers (Hathaway) is a therapist who has been assigned to counsel a group that has just survived a plane crash. Each of the survivors seems to remember that an explosion occurred in mid flight. However, when she approaches the airline company about it, they claim that no such explosion ever happened.

Along the way, Claire finds herself drawn to one particular survivor, Eric (Patrick Wilson). She eventually gives him some after hours counseling away from the other survivors. Before long, and against her better judgment, she becomes romantically involved with him.

But just as the romance blossoms, several of the crash survivors begin to disappear. Claire immediately suspects foul play on behalf of the airline, in particular a flight captain (David Morse) who may or may not be hiding something. She also pressures Eric to open up about what he remembers experiencing during the incident.

Itís all well intended and well acted, but just doesnít deliver the effect it should even for a movie with a 90 minute running time. The romance between Hathaway and Wilson feels completely forced and every scene that has her trying to piece together the mystery leads to a number of odd scenes that only do a great job of illustrating to us that a major plot revelation is drawing near.

In the end, I simply expected more from a filmmaker like Rodrigo Garcia. He made a film several years back called Nine Lives, a riveting and effective multi-character piece focusing on nine individual female characters. And he also knows quite a bit about the world of psychology, having directed many episodes of the acclaimed series In Treatment.

To be fair, Iíve only seen the film once. Any film with a big twist almost always demands a second viewing, as it presents it in an entirely new light. Should I find myself wanting to re-watch Passengers, I may find myself liking it a bit more. The thing is, Iím not so sure a second viewing is necessary to begin with.

Video ****

Outstanding from beginning to end, which is good when you consider the masses are basically getting their first taste of the film through this release. The film is very well shot, and the Blu-ray release takes advantage of pretty much ever lush shot, be that a daytime sequence or a darkened room set piece. Colors are most phenomenal in the presentation as well. Not a single flaw to be found!

Audio ***

The Dolby TrueHD mix works quite effectively for this dramatic film. The sequences involving the plane crash are as intense and ferocious as youíd expect. In between those scenes, the film is mostly dialogue driven. Spoken words are terrifically well heard as is the music score courtesy of Edward Shearmur.

Features ***

This Blu-ray release from Sony includes a commentary with director Rodrigo Garcia and actor Patrick Wilson, as well as two featurettes, ďThe Manifest and Making of PassengersĒ and ďAnalysis of a Plane Crash, three Deleted Scenes and bonus previews for additional Sony releases including Rachel Getting Married, Seven Pounds and Lakeview Terrace.

Summary:

Though it has superb talent working both in front of and behind the camera and an interesting final twist, Passengers just isnít as effective of gripping as it ought to be. The case of multiple-storyline-disorder keeps it from being a tight dramatic thriller.

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