“Voyagers” is a movie with science-fiction setting, but at the heart it is about pure deviant psychology. Think about “Lord of the Flies” set on a spaceship, and you get the idea. When a future Earth is facing ruin, the smart people send out a space ship to planet light-years away. The people sent to colonize a new world are raised as obedient sheep. But they won’t stay that way.
There is one single adult named Richard (played by Colin Farrell) who has volunteered to go on this mission. He knows he will never return, but he has seen all these kids grow up. Some of the young adults are Christopher (played by Tye Sheridan), who is a curious and serious thinker. His best friend is Zac (played by Fionn Whitehead) who has a fun-seeking side. There are many others, but Richard is fond of Sela (played by Lily-Rose Depp), who is trained as the medical officer. Everyone knows their place and stays in their lane.
One day, Zac and Christopher discover that the blue liquid they drink everyday acts like a drug. It suppresses their feelings and emotions. Pretty soon, all of the young crew has dumped out the blue goo and gotten a new lease on the wild life. Richard tries to get everyone to calm it down to dull roar, but he has no way to get through to them. There is a problem on the exterior of the ship. Christopher and Richard go out to fix the communications system.
But soon there is only Christopher who returns into the ship. Zac claims that Richard was attacked and killed by an alien. He says that it was brought in when Richard’s body was brought in. Or maybe it was embedded in Christopher. Everyone’s nerves are set on edge, while the groups break into factions. One is led by Christopher, and one is led by Zac. Sela joins with Christopher, because he is not hot-headed like Zac. Christopher and his group some disturbing evidence about Zac and his involvement in Richard’s death.
There is no adult supervision, and now Zac’s group has found a cache of weapons. So there is a spiral of anger and fear and madness that has come over the crew. They chase each other down the super-long hallways. They play hide-and-seek in the air vents and duck into side rooms. And they decide to bring everything to a tense climax by having a fight in the ship’s airlock. Just so you don’t forget they are on a spaceship — not a deserted island…
“Voyagers” leans really, really hard into the “Lord of the Flies” gene pool. It takes a group of controlled people who are strictly raised obeying the rules. Then it drops the guardrails of a normal society and gives them the freedom to run wild. Big shocker – they do run wild. Some of the people are less jagged than others, but almost all of them are susceptible to mob rule. Might makes right, and the one who is large is in charge.
Neil Burger has directed some other pretty out-there type movies. He does a terrific job when taking other people’s material and novels and turning it into a great movie. In this case, his idea and script are interesting, but it does not translate to a rich movie experience. It does have a new twist on an old concept. But in the end it fails to launch.
The acting is adequate, and not very outstanding. Colin Farrell does not have much of a character arc, and Tye Sheridan seems to be hiding any enthusiasm to play his role. Fionn Whitehead gets a chance to play into a devil-may-care personality that is driven by his ego. Lily-Rose Depp creates a character that has strong ideals and a stronger will to live.
“Voyagers” is a movie that proves that it is all about the journey, not the destination. But in this case — Are we there YET?
Written and Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead, Colin Farrell
Music by: Trevor Gureckis
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Release date: April 9, 2021
Length: 108 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, some strong sexuality, bloody images, a sexual assault andbrief strong language
Genre: Science Fiction