Blu-Ray Review: Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson in Supernatural ‘Passengers’

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CHICAGO – There have been several interesting movies about plane crashes, none more so than Peter Weir’s amazing “Fearless” with its career-best performance by Jeff Bridges. There’s something nearly supernatural about surviving falling from the sky in a several-ton hunk of metal. It’s that otherworldly quality that Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson use for creepy thrills in the moderately effective “Passengers,” now on Blu-Ray and DVD. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

When a movie doesn’t even open in Chicago and heads straight to the Netflix queue, most viewers, including this critic, have a natural pessimistic apprehension. But I couldn’t believe that such a talented cast as Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson, Andre Braugher, Dianne Wiest, and David Morse could produce something truly horrible.

I was right. There are parts of “Passengers” that truly work. It’s not horrible and vastly superior to the loathsome “Bride Wars”. But it’s also easy to see why Sony didn’t know how to handle it with a script full of odd tones changes and a final act that simply gets away from everyone involved.

Passengers was released on Blu-Ray on May 12th, 2009.
Passengers was released on Blu-Ray on May 12th, 2009.
Photo credit: Sony

Wilson (“Little Children,” “Watchmen”) plays a rather unusual survivor of a horrific plane crash. He remembers an explosion and then waking up on a beach. He seems almost invincible and baffles the therapist (Hathaway) brought in to handle the survivors. The great Andre Braugher (“Homicide: Life on the Street”) plays Hathaway’s superior.

Passengers was released on Blu-Ray on May 12th, 2009.
Passengers was released on Blu-Ray on May 12th, 2009.
Photo credit: Sony

The first act, as Hathaway starts to work with her patients and realizes that they all have different stories and theories about the crash, is truly interesting. Hathaway is believable and Wilson is intriguing. And when survivors start to suggest that perhaps the airline is trying to silence them in whatever way possible, the conspiracy theory drama has an interesting edge.

Hathaway brings gravity to her role and Wilson is always a fascinating actor. The two actually have chemistry, although the romantic entanglement feels superfluous to the mystery of the crash.

It’s when Ronnie Christensen’s screenplay starts to live up to its tagline that “Passengers” begins to unravel. “Behind the mystery lies a secret…not of this world.” “Six Feet Under” director Rodrigo Garcia excels at the character and drama usually missing from supernatural stories but doesn’t have as firm a grasp on the material that feels like a discarded “X-Files” script (even ‘The Cigarette Smoking Man’ makes an appearance).

Bluntly, when Hathaway starts screaming about her missing passengers and a ghostly, haggard man shows up claiming to be one himself, “Passengers” stops being effective and becomes mostly boring. It’s an interesting set-up with a dull follow-through, but might be worth a rental for serious fans of the stars or the supernatural. “Passengers” may not work, but I was expecting a heck of a lot worse.

The Blu-Ray release for “Passengers” is a good one with excellent video quality and crystal clear audio. Sony continues to rock in these departments and the well-mastered 1080p picture can not be faulted. Neither can the expertly mixed TrueHD 5.1 audio track.

Special features on “Passengers” include deleted scenes, a commentary with Rodrigo Garcia and Patrick Wilson, “In the Night Sky: The Making and Manifest of Passengers,” and “Analysis of the Plane Crash”. The deleted scenes are interesting, fleshing out the final act into something more emotional than what kind of felt like a cheap twist in the theatrical version. It’s a well-rounded and complete collection for a film that’s not quite.

‘Passengers’ is released by Sony Pictures Home Video and stars Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson, Andre Braugher, David Morse, Clea Duvall, and Dianne Wiest. It was written by Ronnie Christensen and directed by Rodrigo Garcia. The Blu-Ray and DVD were released on May 12th, 2009. It is rated PG-13. content director Brian Tallerico

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