There is something deeply, damagingly conventional about Passengers, an obvious fact before the opening credits are even finished. But once this is recognized, there is no reason Passengers cannot be enjoyed in the same way that an episode of ABC's Lost might be. That is, as a small but entertaining exercise in twisty sci-fi indulgence.
Indeed, the similarities between Passengers and Lost are immense. Both are about mysterious plane crashes, the troubled post-crash lives of a small band of survivors, and some unexplained supernatural creepiness. Both have romance, violence, dead parent apparitions, and characters named Claire. In the end, though, Passengers is much simpler than any given episode of Lost, even if less stylishly rendered.
Passengers, directed by Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives, Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her), does not take place on a tropical island, but rather a dreary looking area of British Columbia. The film begins, predictably enough, with a plane crash, with a handful of survivors walking around dazed and bloodied amidst carnage and fire.
We then jump forward to subsequent weeks, after the survivors have returned to their normal lives, as therapist Claire Summers (Anne Hathaway) attempts to reach out and help these people cope with the trauma of being the sole survivors. Of course, the therapy does not go as planned. Passengers begin to go missing, new survivors come out of the woodwork, suspicious airline officials begin following Claire around, and one passenger seems all too gleeful about the whole experience. He is Eric (Patrick Wilson), a charming, handsome broker who lives in a cool bohemian loft where he has taken up abstract painting (apparently his way of dealing with the crash).