Survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there’s no way you can cheat Death.
You know when The Black Saint first heard that there was going to be a fourth & final “Final Destination” I was pretty stoked. I thought the franchise had pretty much run it’s course and was losing steam. Much to my surprise, it was actually pretty good & it was filmed in 3D which was utilized properly for once. It didn’t have an open ending that suggested there would be another entry in the series but then again none of them did. So here we are a few short years later & the latest entry in the series is bursting forth (Literally) from your local movie screens and let me tell you, it’s pretty freaking awesome!
I find it amazing that the people behind the whole “Final Destination” franchise have not messed with the formula one bit. Why fix it if it ain’t broken? The plot of “FD5” pretty much mirrors the previous entries. A group of people are at some kind of event or travelling somewhere when one of them gets a premonition of what’s going to happen to them in a few minutes. At this point he/she warns all of their friends to leave wherever they are to escape the coming disaster. Everyone gets away & watches as the disaster unfolds right in front of them, but since they were supposed to die in the catastrophe and didn’t…Death comes after them. What made the films exciting was the ingenious ways the writers thought of to kill everyone. Some of the deaths in the series seemed like that game called “Mousetrap” we all played when we were kids. You know the iron falls over & starts a fire that sets off a sprinkler system that gets the electrical outlets wet which leads to something else and eventually somebody dies horribly.
In “FD5” the person who “Sees” the future is Sam Lawton (Nicholas D’Agosto) who while on a bus trip to a corporate retreat with some of his co-workers. As the bus approaches and begins to go over a suspension bridge (that is being repaired), he gets the prerequisite vision & sees the bridge crumbling and eventually collapsing to the river running underneath it. He also sees each of his friends (Including himself) die in the most gruesome of fashions. I have to say that the bridge collapse is the most epic disaster of all the “FD” films. Cables snap, the bridge crumbles, cars fall to their doom in the river below, and lots and lots of people die. Cinematically, it’s expertly filmed & choreographed just right. The effects in this scene are so expertly realized and in 3D that you will feel like you are on that bridge.
Of course, the police would like to know how Sam knew all of this was going to happen. Even going as far as to imply that he might be responsible for it in some way (One of the weaker elements of the plot). So much so that a agent by the name of Block (Courtney Vance) decides to follow Sam around. But Sam is also being followed by County Coroner Bludworth (Tony Todd) who is always there when one of his friends die. At the funeral for those who died in the bridge collapse, Bludworth tells them that “Death doesn’t like to be cheated”. But that’s all he tells them as he walks away, whistling a happy tune as he does his job.
Now I cannot tell you about the methods death uses to get his revenge on the survivors but I will say that they are the most creative of the series so far. One sequence in a gymnasium had the whole audience on pins & needles expecting something to happen which didn’t. This particular kill ended in a way none of us would’ve imagined considering all the red herrings the sequence throws at us to keep us off balance & scared. All of the deaths are quite gruesome & extremely gory. The filmmakers weren’t worried about letting the red stuff fly in this one.
After one particularly gruesome death Sam & his surviving friends see Bludworth again & demand to know what he seems to know about why all of their friends are dying. Bludworth informs them that Death cannot be cheated but it can be tricked. If one of them can kill someone else as a replacement for themselves, Death will be satisfied and grant that persons lifespan onto whomever kills them. Essentially trading someone else’s life for theirs. This is a new element to the franchise & it gives it new life because now the survivors have an option that the others in the previous films didn’t have. It makes the film more than just a “Ten Little Indians” sort of film because there is a way out. It’s a messed up way for sure but it’s a way. But are any of them willing to murder someone to save their own lives?
This new wrinkle turns “FD5” into something of a morality tale. Could you kill a complete stranger if it meant saving your own life? The remaining survivors have to make this decision and it adds a new dimension to the story that makes the audience ponder the same question. It’s a game changer for the franchise, one that actually works. The script by Eric Heisserer & Jeffrey Redd*ck hits all of the required notes that are required of any “FD” film but it adds a dash of drama as well. Of course a great script doesn’t really matter if the actors can’t act but that’s not a worry here either. All of the main players are excellently essayed by the young cast. Especially Miles Fisher (A dead ringer for a young Tom Cruise by the way) as Peter Friedkin, Sam’s best friend. After seeing his girlfriend die and hearing what Bludworth had to say about cheating death, he slowly becomes unglued and begins to act irrationally. His slow mental breakdown was very believable & well acted.
The other thing about “FD5” that makes it special are the incredible 3D effects. The 3D in the previous entry was good but in this one it’s absolutely incredible. The opening credits feature some of the best 3D I’ve ever seen, and these are just the credits mind you, The film hadn’t started yet! As of late, any film with 3D in the title featured some decent depth perception shots but not much more unless you count falling rain or snow to be cool in 3D (Did you ever notice that rain or snow is almost always featured in a 3D movie nowadays)? In my opinion 3D means stuff should be coming off of the screen & into my face. I should be jumping up or dodging something that isn’t even there but is somehow literally one inch away from me. “FD5” delivers that kind of 3D experience in spades! There is rarely a scene when something isn’t coming at you & it even provides the depth perception I mentioned earlier in a big way. In fact, I’d like to say that this is probably the best 3D film I’ve ever seen, and I’m including films like “Avatar” & “Tron: Legacy” in my assessment. “Avatar” looked great mind you but it too was more about the perception of being in another land, as was “Tron: Legacy”. Very little came out of the screen in either one of those films. The makers of “FD5” know what 3D is really good at and they throw it all at us….literally. The audience I saw it with was giddy with excitement and fear as the kills just kept getting bigger & more blood was sprayed at us. Everyone loved it!
“FD5” was directed by Steven Quale who shot 2nd unit for “Avatar”. So he knows what he’s doing when it comes to working with 3D. The film looks great, the cast looks/acts great & the script is pretty much spot on. Quale is a name to watch in the future for sure. Everything about “FD5” screams “Quality”, this is no cheap, quickly assembled sequel. It’s a fine tuned machine that doles out it’s scares in expert fashion. Even the ending will suprise you because it adds a bit of a twist to the way the “FD” films usually end. A very ironic & ultimately very graphic twist. I was floored! It felt like a twist Rod Serling would’ve used in “The Twilight Zone”. Awesome ending!!
I just want to point out the performance of Tony Todd before I wrap up. He has been in each one of the “FD” films & although each film features a new cast in a different locale he has been the face we’re used to seeing in the films (Or in one case, the voice we’re used to hearing). His part isn’t a big one but it’s a pivotal one & it’s his delivery of the lines that makes us want to believe what he’s saying is true. How does he know what he knows? Maybe we’ll find out one day but for now his presence in the film is a welcome one. He also has a little bit at the end of the film as well that’s eminently creepy.
“Final Destination 5” is the best in the series so far in my opinion. It eclipses all of the other entries in the most entertaining of ways. It never slows down & it never lets up once it has us locked in. One of the best horror films of the year! The Black Saint gives it 4 1/2 shrouds for it’s overall excellence & incredible effect work. Do not dawdle and see it this weekend! You won’t be sorry..
Final Destination 5 (2011)