When death misses

Roger Moore | Boulder Weekly


There was a scene, lo those many (OK, 11) years ago, in the original Final Destination. One of the characters who inadvertently “cheated death” and ruined “death’s grand design” had holed up in a cabin, which then had to be made accident-proof.

Sharp objects of every shape and form were noted by the camera as we, the viewers, were made to cringe and anticipate what gruesome things might happen.

Over the succeeding years, the Destinations have gotten away from that anticipation, lost track of character, shrugged off performance and given up any thoughts of subtext — young people who figure they’re going to live forever suddenly preoccupied with mortality. The films have become elaborate 3-D chain-reaction “accidents” that cause someone — a survivor, a cop — to say, “It can’t be a coincidence.”

And somebody else will declare, “It isn’t.” Those “classic” accidents are revisited in the closing credits of Final Destination 5, images we remem ber, characters we don’t. It’s a slack and soulless but competently executed film of a script with butterknife-dull dialogue and actors cast because of their “type.”

Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) is the young guy whose premonition causes him, his ex-girlfriend (Emma Bell) and six others to flee a bus before the bridge they’re on collapses. He has seen the amazing 3-D-blood-on-thelens ways they’re all going to die — impaled on a sailboat mast or by a stack of re-bar, squished by a falling convertible, drowned in the bus.

But they’re not even done mourning their dead colleagues (they were headed for a corporate retreat) when the survivors start dying off. Death diva Tony Todd (Candyman) shows up as a coroner who explains that they “shorted death” — and death always counts the till at the end of a disaster.

Two words for you — acupuncture accident. Two more — lethal lasik. The deaths are executed (ahem) with care. It’s the colorless performances and predictable conversations that pretty much kill this one. There’s one big anticipation scene — Sam works in a fancy restaurant, and a kitchen is filled with things that can cut, crush, grind, boil or burn you to death.

The elaborate terminal exits drew more script attention than the characters or anything else. Without a moral component to the tale, we’re just treated to perfunctory killing effects and stunts and gore, which make fans of the genre dutifully hoot and holler and applaud.

Screenwriter Eric Heisserer and director Steven Quale may be patting themselves on the back for their semi-clever back-engineered ending. It’s the 85-minute journey that precedes that “final” destination that counts. This isn’t the worst of the bunch, not by far. But my premonition is this won’t be the finale this series has screamed out for these past few years.

This decapitation train never seems to reach its destination.

(c) 2011, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.). ­—MCT Respond:letters@boulderweekly.com