Genre: Sci-fi Dark Comedy
Synopsis: A spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant planet has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he wakes up a second passenger who he’s fallen in love with.
About: Considered one of the best screenplays of 2007, this script was put on the fast track once Keanu Reeves attached himself to star.
Writer: Jon Spaihts


The reason I chose to review this script was twofold. One, Keanu Reeves decided to star in it. And two, of all the specs I discuss with people, this one seems to be the most universally liked.

One of the first things I ask people who read a lot is, “Have you read anything good lately?” The one title that keeps coming back over and over again is “Passengers”. And I can see why. It’s an entirely unique premise. It’s a sci-fi film that’s also a comedy. It’s dark in ways that movies like this never are. It takes chances. It’s interesting. It’s different.

So then why didn’t I like it?

Upon hearing so many people hype this script up, I actually went back and reread it, figuring I’d missed something. But even that second time around, I couldn’t get over one major hole in the story: This would never happen.

A giant ship is flying to another world to colonize it. Makes sense. People are put in sleep chambers for the 100+ year trip. Makes sense. One of those sleep chambers malfunctions. Makes sense. There isn’t a system in place in case this happens??? …….. Sorry, doesn’t make sense. I don’t care how you spin it. It’s a huge hole. Because the whole movie hinges on you believing that Keannu Reeve’s character, Jim, is in this situation.

What about cycling tech support people in and out of 10 year sleep periods so there were always men maintaining the ship? What about robots with the capability of waking crew up? Why wouldn’t a system be put in place?

Okay, enough of Grouch Patrol. When Jim realizes there’s no way to go back to sleep, he fears he’ll end up living the rest of his life alone in this vast vacant ship. He does make a friend in Arthur The Robotic Bartender. But you can only take conversations with a robot so far – or at least I’m told – and Jim cannot escape his loneliness.

The only thing that keeps him going is the divinely beautiful Aurora, one of the other passengers still in her chamber. Jim begins quite possibly the biggest stalking case in history as he spends every waking hour watching Aurora sleep. This leads to querying the central computer and finding out everything about her. It’s a seriously unhealthy relationship. After months and months, Jim gets an idea. A terrible idea. What if he opened Aurora’s chamber? Knowing that she’ll never be able to go back to sleep. Knowing that she will grow old here with him and die….. It’s the ultimate act of selfishness. Does he do it?

Of course he fucking does it. You can only have a single character wandering around in a movie for so long (unless you’re Tom Hanks).

So he releases Aurora on false pretenses, telling her her chamber malfunctioned. And because he’s spent months and months researching her, he’s able to be every thing she wants in a man. Not having any competition helps as well. Eventually though, Aurora finds out the truth, and the only two people left in the world become enemies. Jim is even more alone now than when Aurora was asleep.

The final act deals with a ship malfunction that threatens to kill everyone and Jim and Aurora are forced to work together. It’s not a bad ending but like I said, I just wasn’t into it.

This is one of the few instances where even though I’m giving Passengers a bad review, I encourage you to check it out yourself. It appears I’m waaaaay in the minority here and there’s a good chance you’ll like this. Here’s the link….

[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned from Passengers: I think it’s important that you approach all of your stories with a sense of logic. Ask yourself, “Does this make sense?” “Would this really happen?” A lot of times writers don’t challenge their ideas because they fall in love with them. Crossover genres like Passengers are particularly susceptible because there’s always one genre the writer cares less about. He/she simply assumes you won’t give a shit (and you can argue that he’s right – since this script is so universally loved). But I still believe you turn off a portion of your audience by not tending to the details and I think it will cost Passengers a lot of sci-fi fans. Don’t ever underestimate your audience.

  • Anonymous

    Aw, man, I had just come up with a script idea that’s probably too similar to this. It was more like a non sci-fi version where a guy and a girl get trapped an underground bomb shelter for twenty years. My beats were different but it’s probably too similar overall. Oh, well, at least I hadn’t started it yet. Thanks for the review, Carson.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08439555051697115476 Carson Reeves

    Haha. That’s what I’m here for. To destroy people’s dreams! I’d read this script before you give up on your idea (which sounds good). It has a very unique tone. It might be more different from yours than you think.

  • Anonymous

    Keannu certainly loves sci-fi doesn’t he!

  • Anonymous

    Gotta allow a film its premise. Why didn’t Keanu Reeves shoot the tires in Speed when the bus was going slow enough for him to bang on the fucking window!? End of fucking movie, that’s why. Regardless, in Passengers, it seems the cooperations of this fictional future are so smug they thought it was impossible their cryo-chambers would ever fail.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08439555051697115476 Carson Reeves

    Like the not enough boats on the Titanic, right? I did consider that. I don’t know why I can’t accept it though. It’s a personal reaction I guess.

  • Anonymous

    It’s little plot holes like this that can be remedied sometimes with just a small bit of exposition or explanation taking up a couple sentences worth of space. It sounds like a great premise to suspend disbelief, too bad those tiny questions and inconsistencies pulled you out. Everyone should take the time to patch up holes with bubble gum.

  • http://anivad.livejournal.com/ anivad

    Huge sci-fi fan here and I was among those who thought Passengers was genius – possibly the best script I’ve ever read. I guess you’re right about that plot hole though, although I didn’t really think much about that.

    I just assumed that there was a reason behind it – maybe such travel had become so common that no one thought failure was possible – ok, I see someone else already suggested that. Yeah, it’s like the Titanic. Especially since all the operations on the ship seemed so smooth and programmed and automated and inflexible that any error must have been considered completely out of the question. If there had been people like that back in the days of Titanic, I’d think it would be more so in the future when things actually do run better and the machines have essentially taken over.

    Actually I think that might have been one of the concerns of the story – how we willingly give up so much of our lives to machines, and the annoying consequences that result, e.g. Jim being unable to order the more expensive food even though he’s the only one awake on the ship. So this supposed plot hole might have been a continuance of that theme to show that people just assumed the computer would make everything run just fine, and it didn’t.

    Regarding the post from the annonymous person who first mentioned this and brought up Speed: I never thought of shooting the tires. Whoa.

    Additional note – Keanu apparently had a fairly big part in creating the story; his initial interest was as producer, and then as star.

  • Anonymous

    This whole script gives a sense of being set in a WALL-E universe. Lots of similar vibes (e.g floor-cleaning robots, goggle-eyed robots, captain waking up from sleep, etc). It would be interesting to know if either of the writers had been influenced by the other. Both scripts seem to be from 2007. It could also be a case of two people unknown to each other writing different stories but with a similar environment.

    I liked parts of the script but it seemed to lose its way in the latter half. Became predictable, stopped surprising me. However, the glaring hole in the script didn’t bother me too much, I seemed to accept it quite easily.

    -meta

  • Anonymous

    Carson, it would be great if you could review another interesting sci-fi spec: NONSTOP. Has a very interesting premise — passengers of an airplane being abducted by aliens.

    -meta

  • Anonymous

    ah but you are forgetting Keanu’s ability to take the conventionally unreal, & make it real as rain. He is magic & I hope this gets to the big screen soonest!

    ARYA

  • Anonymous

    quote: One of those sleep chambers malfunctions. Makes sense. There isn’t a system in place in case this happens??? …….. Sorry, doesn’t make sense.

    It makes perfect sense because the pods are fail safe. So there would be no reason to put another system in place. In real life things like this happen all the time. Most people do not think out side the box. Even in your own goverment ex. No one ever though that a plane would hit the twin towers. Was there a system in place to prevent it. NO! Does that make sense. I liked the script.

  • Anonymous

    quote: Why didn’t Keanu Reeves shoot the tires in Speed when the bus was going slow enough for him to bang on the fucking window!?

    Well for one thing if the bus went below a certain speed the bus would have blown up. So no he could not shoot the tires. Some times I wonder if people actually watch the movies they talk about.

  • karaff

    I can’t believe you didn’t like this script, Carson. I loved it — one of the best scripts I’ve ever read. The ending nearly had me in tears. I’m sorry that plot hole turned you off, because I think it threw you from a very good, very human story.

  • Anonymous

    “Well for one thing if the bus went below a certain speed the bus would have blown up. So no he could not shoot the tires. Some times I wonder if people actually watch the movies they talk about.”

    You lose. The bomb is only activated once the bus goes over 50. Hopper was very clear about this. Can Keanu can run fifty clicks an hour? Should I wrap up my post by repeating your last sentence for emphasis? Nah, fuck it.

  • anish kuruvilla

    Well from what I have read of the review so far, I am not so sure you can call “Passengers” completely original. There was a B movie, really low budgeted but well acted which was on HBO a few weeks ago, it dealt with these bunch of space truck workers, who were on some long haul trip to some planet, it takes like 9 months or something, so all of them fall asleep in these chambers…anyways to cut to the chase, the hero wakes up early due to some system malfunction and he discovers the two crew members who were going to keep awake and run the enterprise are dead, soon the heroine wakes up (i think he wakes her up)….anyways, cutting to the chase further, they both try and kill each other cus of some virus on the space ship…..something like that, I wish I could remember the name of the movie….it starred some unknown talent….anyone know which movie I am talking about….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13868933997157762707 Carson

    Yes, I hate that I don’t like this script because as is clear by your comments, a lot of people really love it. It’s intriguing enough where I’ll definitely see it when it comes out, if that means anything. I have a feeling they’ll plug up that hole anyway.

  • Anonymous

    It’s one thing to criticize in a script review, but people who go to movies for entertainment won’t mind the plot holes as much, if the rest of the story is engaging. Just suspend your disbelief – The Lake House, anyone? Falling in love while living in different years? Some serious plot holes there, but an enjoyable flick. And Keanu again…has he ever been in a solid story?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13868933997157762707 Carson

    I admit that I love Keanu. His career and fame make no sense. And yet I am there for every one of his movies.

  • Anonymous

    I think Keanu’s become a slightly better actor with age. SLIGHTLY. And while he’s never amazing, he has been in a lot of really great films. Matrix, Scanner Darkly, both Bill and Teds, Speed, amongst others.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting idea. I liked it, not great. Dialog flat, etc. Needs a rewrite/punch up. But I can see why it sold. Oh, and the title… boring. May I suggest: 2 LIVE CREW

  • karaff

    “May I suggest: 2 LIVE CREW”

    Okay, I LOLed.

  • Anonymous

    I’d seriously sleep with you if i was gay.

  • Anonymous

    I liked the script but the part that took me the longest to sorta accept was that she’d forgive him after finding out he woke her up.

    Might kind of fun to re-imagine this as a suspense/horror/scyfy kind of script… she wakes up to find she has an intergalactic stalker.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02163221455899041141 Emily Blake

    Thanks. I agree with you. I was the only person I knew who thought Passengers was terrible.

    My biggest believability problem wasn’t the premise, though.

    SPOILER

    It was when the very crew member who could solve their problem woke up on his own, then when they didn’t need him anymore he died. It was just too convenient. I would rather have seen him stick around and become a cog in the wheel. If Aurora had someone else to choose from, would she still choose our boy? Probably not, because he is a selfish prick. And that means she only ends up with him because he’s all that’s available.

    There were just too many convenient plot twists in this, too many coincidences, and I hated the protagonist in a not good way.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think the logical hole you mentioned would actually bother audiences. Willing suspension of disbelief is a powerful force.

    The greater problem I had with the script is the complete and utter lack of opposition through the entire 2nd act. The setup was great and the ending was intense, but everything else was sort of dull.

  • Anonymous

    I like very much this script but i agree with those who think it needs a serious rewriting ! There is some incoherences in this script…

    How can Aurora think that there wouldn’t be a possibility that he did awake her ? If she is as smart as her job let us believe, she should consider that as an alternative. Loneliness is a real torture that everyone may experience. The script should explore smarter this concept of loneliness, the lack of alter ego.

    The Jim’s character is also not enough elaborated.

  • Anonymous

    This script was spiritually satisfying like Groundhog Day. Also similar in spiritual satisfaction to Ricky Gervais’ script ‘This Side of the Truth’.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06872780969179149381 martinb

    I thought most of the script was very good. I didn’t have a problem with no maintenance crew permanently awake. It would be easy enough to write a prologue that explains it away (plague, penny-pinching corporation saving money, madness etc), but rather get right into the story.

    I liked the characters, and felt they behaved in believable fashion, and was prepared to overlook bitty details because the story moved along at a nice pace.

    It was only near the end when the ship started failing that I felt the technical stuff needed a competent advisor to make it more realistic. Some obvious engineering and physics screw-ups left me irritated.

  • Anonymous

    Am i the only person to think the first love scene (in the Aurora’s cabin) is a “deja vu” ?
    Okay, it depends on the actors’ talent, but…

  • Anonymous

    you can see any movie and ask questions and say there are holes and thats not possible but thats why it’s fantasy

  • Anonymous

    Sorry to disagree Carson, but this script rules. It’s the best thing I’ve read in awhile. And please Keanu Reeves shouldn’t be playing Jim, he will ruining the great character. I would love to see Kate Winslt playing Aurora. Reminds me of her role in Eternal sunshine.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the previous poster.(hey, wait! Kate Winslet? Are you #+>§% ?)

    I’ve just read it and I think it’s beautiful!!
    I cannot belive you gave this a ‘barely kept my interest’! What the…..?

    Can’t wait to see it on screen!!
    But…hmm…Keanu Reeves? I guess I just stay with the screenplay!

    Anyway…thanks for the link.

  • Anonymous

    In many if not most of sci-fi/fantasy scripts/movies, there is plenty of logic issues, you can’t get hung up on that when the human story is well-articulated. Also, look at Apollo 13, a real incident in which no amount of precaution/preparation by NASA could’ve predicted such technical malfunctions.

  • Grant

    *Spoilers*

    I agree with Emily: The first guy waking up is a plot line. The second guy waking up on his death bed, hours/days before the ship melts down with the ability to diagnose the problems is jumping the shark.

    I actually liked the script quite a bit in spite of it and liked the ending too.

    Not so sure about Keanu. With this being essentially a two person story, they really need to have a couple of actors with great chemistry (not sure I can see that with Keanu). Oddly I pictured Kelsey Grammar as the bartender.

    Looking forward to it.

  • Anonymous

    I “bought” the malfinction but found the ensuing love story insipid and uninspired.

  • Anonymous

    I loved this script as much as I disliked his Shadow 19. One of the 5 best scripts I’ve read this year. (Don’t really get your take on it as a comedy though).

  • FabioC

    It seems that Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds) is going to direct Passengers. At least, it’s what he’s telling in press junkets for his latest Italian movie, Kiss Me Again (Baciami Ancora), a sequel to The Last Kiss.

  • Anonymous

    “It appears I’m waaaaay in the minority here and there’s a good chance you’ll like this. Here’s the link….”

    So, where’s the link? It was taken down? I really wanted to check it out. The concept intrigued me. After all those LOOK! EXPLOSIONS! movies that gave Sci-Fi a bad name.

  • Anonymous

    can anyone be so kind as to e-mail me a copy of this script??? you would be GREATLY appreciated!!!

    jsn0310@gmail.com

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    pls need an active link to the script.

    thanks

  • Anonymous

    Some infos from CANNES :

    A newly reinvigorated Morgan Creek has licensed its latest project, “Passengers,” to be directed by Italian auteur Gabriele Muccino, to Medusa in Italy and to Herbert Kloiber’s TeleMunchen in Germany. Other deals in key territories are pending on the $90 million pic, which will go out domestically through Universal.

    Keanu Reeves already has been locked up as the male lead, while his female love interest is still being sought for what the producers short-handed as “Adam & Eve in Space.” The pic also will have a couple of comedic roles and set designs created by some of the wizards who worked on “Avatar.”

    Set in the future, “Passengers” centers on Jim Preston (Reeves), a mechanic on a 120-year journey to a distant colonized planet in another galaxy, who becomes the first traveler to experience pod hibernation failure. Having woken up 100 years too soon, he is stranded in the world of an interstellar spaceship with only robots and androids for companionship.

    A year into his journey, he decides to wake up a fellow passenger, a beautiful journalist named Aurora. They fall in love but must soon deal not only with the revelation of Jim’s misjudged act of waking her but a major malfunction of the ship itself

    Original script was penned by screenplay by Jon Spaihts but is now getting a polish and will begin shooting next January, though exactly where is still unclear. (The worsening exchange rate with Canada may scupper the idea of that territory.)

    Jim Robinson said the film is essentially a love story but with sophisticated robotics, a crusty older character a la Tommy Lee Jones and a comic humanoid servant a la Eddie Izzard. (Those roles too have yet to be cast.)

    “I think of the picture as having the after-taste of ‘Titanic’ — but everyone lives,” he said.

  • bruckey
  • Anonymous

    Anyone who has this script, if you could send it to mccracken84@gmail.com, it’d be GREATLY appreciated!

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    Not even JAWS or ALIEN.

    On the story itself…structurally sound?
    Good characters in good scenes?
    Dramatic conflict?
    Written in a visually driven style?
    As all movie scripts need to be…since it’s not a play for the stage.
    Or a teleplay for TV.

    I’m not even going into theme or subtext or character arc
    or dialogue whatever. Just the basics.
    Is this a story that’ll make a good movie?

    Yes.

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