Dubbed by the press as "the Lucky 8," the survivors must now deal with the aftermath, which for Sam means suspicion from FBI Agent Block (Courtney B. Vance) as to how he knew about the disaster before it happened. But bigger issues for the Lucky 8 soon emerge: each begins dying in a freak accident. A mysterious coroner (Tony Todd) seems to know what's going on, explaining to the survivors that they were meant to die on the bridge and that Death itself has returned to reclaim their lives. He tells them that there may be a way to escape their fate, but at what cost?
The End Result
By the time any film franchise reaches its fifth installment, chances are slim it has anything new or interesting to add to the series, and following the dismal The Final Destination, there was little reason for optimism for Final Destination 5. But a funny thing happened on the way to the morgue: Final Destination 5 turns out to be the best entry in the series since the original. It's still not terribly original -- the plot follows the basic pattern of the previous films (group escapes death, death returns to get them), and the kills occur in the same extravagantly tiered manner -- but there is a restored sense of morbid fun and even a couple of twists to liven up the otherwise predictable plot.
The first twist -- a possible way to escape death posited by the mysterious coroner -- adds another dimension (4-D?) to the story, providing a human element to a series that has for so long revolved around a supernatural entity disposing of interchangeable human fodder. (It should be noted, though, that apart from this wrinkle, the characters in Final Destination 5 are still dull and forgettable.) The final twist adds a nice cherry on the sundae, although it could be seen as contradicting the other twist.
However, the action, not the human element, is where the movie really excels. The death scenes are more over the top than ever -- not just from the complexity standpoint (they play out like a lethal version of the Mouse Trap board game), but also in terms of explicit gore and unnerving content (playing on fears of height, needles and things being jabbed into your eye), which often includes a darkly humorous icing on the cake (think 3-D body parts).
The requisite "disaster," meanwhile, is probably the most harrowing of the franchise -- which began with a plane explosion, then a highway pileup, then a roller coaster malfunction and finally a race track crash. This early action sequence taps into the survivalist thrill factor that has fueled disaster movies from Airport to 2012 and plays like a mini version of a film from that niche, propelled by pulse-poundingly realistic special effects.
The rest of the movie isn't nearly as exciting, and frankly, being the best of the Final Destination sequels isn't a terribly high compliment, but FD5 provides good, not-so-clean genre fun that shows restraint where its predecessor did not (e.g., not shoving 3-D objects into your face every 10 minutes).
- Acting: C+ (Competent but perfunctory horror stuff.)
- Direction: B (Longtime James Cameron collaborator Steven Quale delivers the goods in actions scenes that range from harrowing to gruesome to darkly comedic.)
- Script: C+ (Delivers a couple of nice twists but otherwise takes the familiar path of the series with no intriguing characters introduced.)
- Gore/Effects: A- (Spectacular and over the top.)
- Overall: B- (A fun, occasionally fresh surprise that's as good as you could hope for this late in a movie franchise.)
Final Destination 5 is directed by Steven Quale and is rated R by the MPAA for strong violent/gruesome accidents, and some language. Release date: August 12, 2011.