Nicholson plays the character with personal flair, as penetrating as Antonioni's handling of the film. (Review of Original Release)
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In casting Jack Nicholson as the jaded Anglo-American journalist who abandons his previous life during a trip to Africa and adopts a dangerous new identity, Antonioni was working with a more powerful and charismatic actor than he has before or since. The result is something like a glamorous thriller or a disaster film in slow motion.
The Passenger is a relic of that moment in international co-production when famous European auteurs hitched their wagons to hip and eager Hollywood stars.
The Passenger isn't finally the masterpiece some have made it out to be, but it retains a singular intrigue: It's the first, and probably the last, thriller ever made about depression.
The film's final seven-minute shot is one of the great denouements in film history.
The script, co-written by Antonioni and Peter Wollen, focuses on a TV journalist (a superb Jack Nicholson).
Intended as a thriller of sorts, although Antonioni is, as always, too deeply involved in the angst of his characters to bother much with the story. (Review of Original Release)
No other performer (Jack Nicholson) in an Antonioni film, except Jeanne Moreau in "La Notte," has so gracefully submitted to Mr. Antonioni and survived intact. (Review of Original Release)