Final Destination 5
Directed by Steven Quale. Starring Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, David Koechner, Tony Todd, Courtney B. Vance. (2011, R, 95 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 19, 2011
Death is never final so long as the box office and foreign market sales remain relatively strong, thus we have yet another devastation destination in time for the end-of-summer theatrical doldrums. As in all the previous entries of this efficiently entertaining (and ridiculously bloody) series, death by a fantastically complicated, Rube Goldbergian chain of events is the whole point of the film. In this trip, getting there is all the fun. For those of you who have been following along, this fifth installment is again in 3-D but is superior to the last splat-a-thon; it's by far the best of the viscera-strewn bunch since the first sequel, Final Destination 2, whose title alone was a subtle exercise in blowing your mind. As before – as always – a group of shiny happy young people are forewarned of their impending, spectacularly gruesome deaths moments before they actually occur, thus giving them a chance to die later in the film in ever more horrible ways, as Death's stand-in (Tony Todd) wanders around in the backstory somewhere. Not that Final Destination 5 is concerned much with layering its characters or adding much in the way of subtext past the obvious "we're all going to die." That's not what this sojourn is about. This is about Sam (D'Agosto), who is on his way to a paper company retreat when he has a vision of the bus ferrying his co-workers and his girlfriend (Bell) plunging to its doom after a freak windstorm collapses the suspension bridge they're about to cross. Sam and a half-dozen other survivors are then tipped off to their impending bad luck by Todd's creepy coroner. Sure enough, it's not long before a terrific argument against laser surgery is made in fine, ocularly obliterative fashion, and Sam and the others are both running from and targeting others for death. (In the series' mythos, you can theoretically spare your own life by tricking someone else into your intended "accident." Theoretically.) Final Destination 5's success hinges entirely on its death scenes and the suspense-filled "clues" leading up to them. Director Quale, a longtime James Cameron crew member, and screenwriter Eric Heisserer manufacture some seriously white-knuckle moments, none better than the opening bridge collapse but almost all more inspired than anything in 2009's The Final Destination. And as a bonus, it also has the most unexpected (and moist) ending since Final Destination 2. Can this be the end of Death? If only.