When a passenger jet crash-lands off the coast, Claire Summers (Anne Hathaway, Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada), a psychologist who has more experience with books than with actual patients, is called in to assist the survivors in dealing with the trauma. As she speaks to them in group sessions, their stories begin to conflict. The official story from the airline was "pilot error" and yet some of the survivors remembering seeing an explosion. Could there be a cover-up going on?
As Claire digs for the truth, one passenger eludes her therapy. Eric (Patrick Wilson, Lakeview Terrace and The Watchmen) refuses to go to group sessions, instead preferring to hit on Claire at every opportunity, even asking for house calls. In the name of therapy and Eric's well being, Claire goes along with him and, in time, finds herself falling for him. Eric insists he is fine and that he is unaffected by the crash, although he is plagued by nightmares and recurring memories of the crash.
Other members of the group react by being angry, depressed or silent. As the group sessions progress, members start dropping off in attendance and, soon, they are disappearing altogether. A strange man has been shadowing the sessions and some of the survivors and soon Claire is convinced the airline has it in for the remaining passengers and means them harm in order to preserve their reputation.
As Claire deals with the survivors' trauma, some issues of her own come to surface, namely the fact that she has spent her career hiding behind books instead of interacting with people. The differences between she and her older sister, Emma, an activist, have caused them to stop speaking. Eric has encouraged her to make peace with her sister after seeing what is truly important in life. Passengers is more about Claire's growing self-discovery and that of the survivors than it is about the mystery surrounding the crash.
Of course, there is a twist and we figured it out before the end of the film, but the journey there is still an interesting one. I found this movie slow as they developed the various characters: the survivors, Claire and those intertwined in her life, but it's still a good movie. It's just not one that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. The special features include a handful of deleted scenes, director and cast commentary, a making-of featurette and a featurette on the creation of the plane crash, which was my favorite special feature.
Passengers isn't a movie you will watch over and over, so it may not be one to purchase, but it's a good rental. Patrick Wilson and Anne Hathaway are very believable in their respective roles, as are crash survivor Clea Duvall (Ghosts of Mars), menacing airline employee David Morse (Disturbia) and wacky neighbor to Claire, Dianne Wiest. The movie looked crisp and clear on high def and the surround sound, especially during the crash scenes, sounded terrific. However, this isn't one that necessarily needs high def, so don't be afriad to see it on DVD. Check this one out on a rainy movie night at home.