Plot summary (with spoilers): Anne Hathaway stars as Claire Summers, a grief counselor who is called in the middle of the night by her boss Perry (played by Andre Braugher). There’s been a big plane crash, and Claire’s services are needed for the handful of survivors. Claire responds at once.
She starts a group therapy sessions for the survivors, who include Shannon (Clea DuVall), Dean (Ryan Robbins), and Eric (Patrick Wilson). The survivors all have different recollections of what happened prior to and during the crash, and Claire is determined to help them work out their memories to get everything straight. The task is made more difficult, however, by the near-constant presence of Arkin (David Morse), an ominous looking representative of the airline. He’s determined to write the crash off as pilot error, which Claire and the survivors think is merely a ploy to try to save the airline from a massive lawsuit.
Eric refuses to come to group sessions, so Claire decides to follow up with him on her own. She thinks that he’s exhibiting classic symptoms of PTSD, but he won’t listen to her, insisting that everything is fine. Eric also flirts constantly, and Claire eventually finds herself giving in and crossing that ethical line that exists between all counselors and their patients. But Eric is not really a patient, he reminds her, so they do indeed get it on.
Meanwhile, some of the survivors start disappearing from the group sessions without a trace. Perry thinks they probably just don’t want to come anymore, but Claire believes something more nefarious is going on. She thinks the airline is getting rid of the survivors in an effort to keep them quiet about the crash. She’s therefore determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on before anyone else disappears.
As the film winds down, viewers are presented with a “twist” that was telegraphed from a mile away — and even alluded to in official posters and trailers from the studio. But unlike The Sixth Sense, this twist served to cheapen everything that came before it, rendering what could have been a decent movie into the straight-to-DVD stinker it is.
My Reaction (spoilers again): You know, I simply don’t understand how a studio could green-light a project like this. Of course everyone who sees it is going to make the inevitable — and unfavorable — comparisons to The Sixth Sense. Anne Hathaway is a ghost and doesn’t know she’s dead??? That was the big, surprising, jaw-dropping twist? Yawn.
I didn’t get that line of reasoning at all. So the Dianne Wiest character was Claire’s long-dead aunt, but Claire conveniently “forgot” about that connection when Wiest was flitting in and out of her apartment? And Perry wasn’t really her boss, he was her second grade teacher, again in “disguise” while Claire was stuck between worlds? Huh? Wouldn’t it have been easier to get her to cross over if these two just revealed themselves for who they were? That makes no sense to me.
You know, this film would have been ok if it had been written as a straight thriller. I wish there were survivors and that the airline was trying to get rid of them to keep them quiet. That would have been infinitely more interesting than this ghost story angle. Oh, well.
I admire Anne Hathaway as an actress because she doesn’t always opt for the safest route. She definitely takes some risks, and sometimes they pay off for her (Brokeback Mountain, Rachel Getting Married), but occasionally they don’t. Passengers falls into this latter category. I give it 2 stars out of 5.