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With Voyagers, it doesn’t take very long at all because while barely into the mission, friends Christopher (Tye Sheridan from Ready Player One and the last stretch of X-Men movies) and Zac (Fionn Whitehead of Dunkirk fame) make a shocking discovery: a medication the kids must take everyday called the “Blue” (and which is billed as a vitamin supplement) is actually a sedative that is used to suppress all emotions during the trip—including anger, fear, and sexual desire.

Sure enough, Christopher and Zac decide to stop taking the “Blue,” at first keeping this information from Richard but spreading the word among the rest of the kids. It’s not too long before there’s a leadership vacuum on the ship, with Christopher and Zac soon heading up different factions and all hell breaking loose as the crew feels lust, rage, fear, and all sorts of unfamiliar and overwhelming impulses for the first time in their lives.

The premise of placing groups of people inside spaceships and seeing what happens to them under extreme circumstances has cropped up recently, and successfully, in the Swedish-Danish film Aniara and A24’s French-German production, High Life, both released in 2018. Both of those films took their concepts in interesting, existential directions. The problem with Voyagers is that one knows exactly where this film is going pretty early on, and Burger does nothing original or compelling with the material once he starts turning his story into a simplistic Lord of the Flies in space.

The biggest unanswered question is: couldn’t these kids, literally raised to be the cream of the crop in terms of their intelligence and capabilities (they are crewing an interstellar craft, after all), also be cultivated through the same psychological/biological engineering to be emotionally stable without drugs? Wouldn’t keeping them heavily medicated for at least part of the journey create problems even when they’re supposed to be taken off the “Blue” and allowed to start mating?

There is potentially rich material here to explore in a different, more intellectually satisfying sci-fi drama, but Burger dispenses with all that by the end of the first act. He also dispenses with any real character development. Since we don’t get to know any of these kids very well at all, including other familiar faces like Lily-Rose Depp (The King) and Isaac Hempstead Wright (Game of Thrones’ Bran Stark), we don’t really have a connection to any of them. Their plight becomes more irritating than genuinely gripping.

At least the visual effects are top-notch, and the design of the ship is itself somewhat striking. But the second half of the film just seems to plunge the camera up and down a repetitive series of white corridors as the two warring factions chase, fight, and try to kill each other. But all the neat-looking space gear in the universe can’t do anything to change the fact that Voyagers hits one note and keeps banging away at it, eventually reaching a conclusion that is meant to strike an emotional chord but just feels flat.

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