Keanu Reeves is returning to science fiction yet again, after the commercial (if nothing else) success of The Day The Earth Stood Still. Passengers is apparently an intimate mix of cryogenics, interstellar travel... and romance.
Reeves's Company Films has been circling round this project for a while now, but it was only a couple days ago that studio Morgan Creek gave Passengers the green light. Written by Jonathan Spaihts, Passengers takes place on an ark ship, making a centuries-long interstellar voyage to a new planet. All the passengers are being held in suspended animation until they arrive, but a computer glitch causes Reeves's character to wake up nearly a century too early. Faced with dying alone on a cold, vast spaceship, he decides to revive a beautiful woman to be his companion.
Spaihts's screenplay has been talked about in Hollywood circles for some time. It placed third on the 2007 edition of the Black List, an annual list of the best screenplays that, for whatever reason, remain unproduced. A script review by screenwriter Joel Haber posted in January 2008 offers some rather cryptic hints as to what one might expect from the story - keeping in mind there will be plenty of revisions and rewrites before filming even begins.
Here are the choice quotes from Haber's review of Passengers, for a production company that ultimately passed on the screenplay:
Passengers is unique and thoughtful science fiction film that has the added benefit of not requiring an exorbitant budget to produce, due to a small cast, single primary location, and few serious effects shots...
The film's potential to be made for a budget lower than most Sci-Fi films suggests some commercial viability. Of course, its more intimate, dramatic and less action-oriented nature suggest it will never become a blockbuster...
[The concept] is both unique and thought provoking. As an audience, we can easily empathize with Jim and Aurora, and wrestle with their dilemmas ourselves. The film is an excellent example of finding a story out of a "what if" scenario...
There are a number of plot holes that might not be terrible, but still exist. None of them alone is that bad, but in conjunction with each other, they do weaken the story somewhat.
A thoughtful, dramatic, low-budget science fiction film with minimal special effects...that stars Keanu Reeves? Color me intrigued. Although I'd love to know how you can apparently cram so many plot holes into the classic story of "Man wakes up from cryogenic hibernation a century early, man gets lonely, man wakes woman up from cryogenic hibernation slightly less than a century early, man meets woman." That's pretty much the oldest, most straightforward plot in the world.