Slash Film

It’s been six years since “Passengers” made its theatrical debut and the world has yet to recover.

When word of Morten Tyldum’s sci-fi spectacle first arrived, the anticipation was immediate. A romantic space adventure with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt? It was almost too good to be true. These are two performers who built their careers on charisma, so tossing them together guaranteed a good time … right? (You have to remember that this was years before Chris Pratt would be deemed a war criminal for his hostile takeover of Mario’s voice.)

Unfortunately, “Passengers” was a massive letdown. So much so that Jennifer Lawrence regrets it to this day and fondly recalls the fact that her Grammy-award-winning friend, Adele once warned her against it.

Where Did Passengers Go Wrong?

“Passengers” tells the story of an immense interstellar spacecraft carrying thousands of people to a colony 60 light years from Earth. In theory, it should be a dull trip: everyone aboard is asleep in a hibernation pod and should remain that way for all 120 years of the trip. But then something goes wrong, and Chris Pratt’s Jim Preston wakes up 90 years too early.

With no way to restart his hibernation, Jim endures a year of solitude — mourning the future he’s lost, spiraling into depression, and eventually developing a crush on a fellow passenger, an author named Aurora Lane (yes, Aurora like “Sleeping Beauty.” Isn’t the subtlety just magical?) He reads her books, watches her video diaries, and stares at her while she sleeps. Then he makes the most morally-bankrupt decision possible: he breaks her pod, waking her so that he’ll no longer be alone.

If this sounds like the premise of a horror movie, then congrats: you’ve arrived at the problem! Instead of leaning into the inherent creepiness of this story, “Passengers” tries to spin it as a tale of genuine romance. Audiences are treated to the heart-fluttering romantic magic of a woman being trapped in space with the man who doomed her. Despite all the red flags and warning signs, Aurora simply gets over her temporary anger and decides to spend her life with Jim. 

As in, at the end of the movie, she gets the option to go back into hibernation but chooses him instead. Yikes.

Adele: Psychic Or Budding Movie Critic?

Try as it might, “Passengers” is no frothy romance. It’s a stealthy horror movie about space and Stockholm syndrome — except that no one seemed to realize this until after it hit theaters.

For Jennifer Lawrence herself, “Passengers” was just the next natural chapter in her career: after getting her start in quiet indies, becoming the face of a blockbuster franchise, and graduating into the world of serious dramas, it was time to lead a big genre flick and appeal to a mass audience while showing off her potential as a romantic lead. But apparently, not everyone agreed.

In a recent New York Times profile, Lawrence revealed that a close friend advised her to turn “Passengers” down. The friend in question? The award-winning musical sensation, Adele. Lawrence said, “Adele told me not to do it! She was like, ‘I feel like space movies are the new vampire movies.’ I should have listened to her.”

Should Adele be calling the shots in Hollywood? Is she agent material? Or a psychic that we should hit up for lotto numbers? More likely, she’s a woman with great intuition, because she was absolutely right: Jennifer Lawrence would’ve been better off saying no to “Passengers,” because it ended up being a waste of her talents.

It’s hard to say what Adele meant with the vampire comment —maybe that space movies (like vampire movies) have become a dime a dozen, and jumping on the bandwagon didn’t guarantee success. Or maybe Adele is just hyper-aware that “Twilight” masquerades as a romance but actually hosts a deeply disturbing relationship dynamic that is 100% unhealthy … Which is a lot like the romance in “Passengers.” Details aside, this might be proof that everyone should start running their life decisions by Adele.

The End Of An Era

No Hollywood star can make it through a career without a few blemishes, but for Jennifer Lawrence, “Passengers” didn’t feel like an anomaly. The NYT profile sees the actress reflecting on her career and the changes that she’s making for the future. So far, it looks like her new strategy is paying off: Lawrence most recently starred in the quiet drama “Causeway,” which /Film’s Chris Evangelista praised, writing in his review, “It’s a reminder that yes, she’s the real deal — a great performer when given material to match her talents.”

In the 2010s, it felt like Jennifer Lawrence was everywhere. The actress was averaging three movies per year, popping up all over the place in various blockbuster franchises, if not the latest star-studded Oscar-bait drama. But all of that exposure eventually led to backlash, and Lawrence herself could feel the frustration of her fans. “I was like, ‘Oh no, you guys are here because I’m here, and I’m here because you’re here,'” she joked, “‘Wait, who decided that this was a good movie?'”

Lawrence cited “Passengers” as the movie that first made her ask that question. It later occurred to her that she was no longer picking projects as she once did — with her gut — and was choosing reactively instead. “Everything was like a rebound effect,” she said. “I was reacting, rather than just acting.”

JLaw’s Exciting Next Chapter

Reflecting on her filmography, the rebounding becomes clear: “Passengers,” which had all the makings of a massively appealing blockbuster thriller, fell flat, so Lawrence zagged instead to Darren Aronofsky’s complex and controversial “Mother!” Then came the sleek, sexy, and ultra-violent spy thriller, “Red Sparrow,” proof that her days of young-adult fanfare were in the past. Unfortunately, that too was panned by critics as a waste of her talents. When all else failed, she could at least ride the wave of superhero success, right? So she kept showing up for “X-Men” movies, embracing the role of Mystique until the franchise finally fizzled out.

Around the time “Dark Phoenix” flopped, Lawrence decided it was time for a break. “I felt like more of a celebrity than an actor,” she said, “cut off from my creativity, my imagination.”

Luckily, Lawrence had her break, her good friend Adele, and the Greenwich Village bar Pieces to put things in order: there she had an epiphany of sorts that led her to this new chapter in her career. Back in her element, Jennifer Lawrence is choosing projects based on her gut, her interest, and her passion — rather than public expectation. Based on the performance she delivered in “Causeway” and the promising sound of her upcoming projects, this will work out for the best.

Read this next: Sci-Fi Masterpieces With Endings We Love To Complain About

The post Why Adele Warned Jennifer Lawrence to Not Make Passengers appeared first on /Film.

/Film – ‘Slash Film: Why Adele Warned Jennifer Lawrence To Not Make Passengers’
Author: Shania Russell
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November 20, 2022

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