Title: Final Destination 5
Directed By: Steven Quale
Starring: Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, PJ Byrne, Arlen Escarpeta, David Koechner, Courtney B Vance, Tony Todd
There’s no beginning this review without setting the scene from a personal standpoint; I am a diehard Final Destination fan. I’ve seen them all countless times and love them all to death (no pun intended), that is until The Final Destination tainted my beloved franchise. Sure, it’s tough to keep a plot fresh four times over, but drowning it in 3D technology is no way to spice it up and Final Destination 5 proves it. No, it doesn’t solidify the third dimension as anything more than a gimmick, but the film has more than enough in terms of the performances, visuals and smart writing to make this an incredibly valiant and successful effort and an installment that I welcome into the franchise with open arms.
The employees of Presage Paper are going on a company retreat. Dennis (David Koechner) is the man in charge, but his second in command, Peter (Miles Fisher), does the honors of rounding everyone up and ushering them onto the bus. He pops a squat next to his intern girlfriend, Candice (Ellen Wroe), while Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta) gets comfortable a few seats away, happily away from the factory underlings who don’t appreciate having a youngster as a boss. Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) spends the beginning of the ride sulking as the love of his life, Molly (Emma Bell), opted to end things just before hitting the road. There’s also Isaac, who, well, would rather talk to his many ladies on the phone than socialize with his co-workers and Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) who doesn’t appreciate how her glasses ruin her rock star style.
However, once the bus creeps onto a suspension bridge that’s under construction, none of those petty issues matter, as the structure begins to crumble and everyone just has to do whatever they can to survive. But this is the Final Destination franchise we’re talking about; none of them do, that is until Nick wakes up from his premonition realizing no blood has been spilled just yet and he’s got one shot at getting his friends, particularly Molly, off the bus. If only he knew the consequences of his actions, Sam might have opted to ride the bus to the netherworld. Instead, he makes it out alive along with Molly, Peter, Candice, Nathan, Olivia, Isaac and Dennis, putting them all on Death’s list, sending them straight towards even more gruesome demises.
Before we even get to that, Final Destination 5 kicks off the bloody fun with a rocking opening credits sequence, reminiscent of The Final Destination in terms of the 3D twist it puts on past franchise deaths, but also kicking off the film’s successful attempt at outshining the series’ sole dud. And from there, it only gets better. The film hits the ground running with some solid character development during the breakfast meet-up before boarding the bus. Some of the characters’ situations, particularly the contrived relationship between Sam and Molly, are a bit vapid, but the piece gets to the action so quickly, it doesn’t even matter.
Plus, once the film hits that opening scene, it’s far too wild of a ride to stop and think about any silly script flaws. The bridge collapse looks downright fantastic, both in terms of the wide scope of the situation and during the more intimate moments when we see our main players bite it. After such a massive bloody blowout, the focus narrows, sending Death out with a vengeance to tie up the loose ends.
Without spoiling anything, three of the deaths in particular are absolutely brilliant when it comes to building suspense. Director Steven Quale ditches The Final Destination’s cheesy pre-death premonitions and keeps it straight, using seemingly plausible mini oopses to kick off the tension. As the scene progresses, other Death-esque elements fall into place, making you squirm in your seat until the particular character’s grand finale, which you almost never see coming. Even though we’ve seen these scenarios play out dozens of times, Final Destination 5 has a knack for catching you off guard, sticking it to the victims when you least expect it.
As for the performances, the majority are exceptionally better than what we got in the fourth film. Bell is sadly lifeless, but her character is riding on her relationship with Sam, which is one of the least successful elements of the film. Plus, she isn’t given much to work with as she’s got maybe ten lines of dialogue in the whole piece. D’Agosto makes for a decent leading man, but, again, Sam just isn’t that interesting and Fisher completely steals his thunder. Peter is, by far, one of the most colorful of the bunch and Fisher has an undeniably natural on screen presence.
This is probably a good point to bring up the use of 3D as, thankfully, here it comes in as a supporting character rather than the main attraction like in the previous film. Again, the extra dimension doesn’t add very much and is a bit too obvious in its effort to throw sharp stakes and body parts at the audience, but it isn’t too intrusive. Rather than use that tacky pop-out tactic time and time again, Quale keeps himself somewhat restrained and merely tosses something in your face every once in a while. But even then, it causes you to think, “Whoa, it’s 3D,” rather than just making it a more powerful part of the action. Then again, the effort to make use of the technology isn’t glaring enough to ruin a 2D viewing in the least. In fact, the film is likely just as good.
The thing has flaws, but it has wholly redeemed the franchise from the travesty that was The Final Destination. The tone doesn’t really match that of the first two films, and somewhat the third, but at this point, the series is better off packing in the humor as we’re just so familiar with the chain of events. It’d insult the audience to take the story so seriously. Even then, Final Destination 5 throws in more than enough surprises to keep you intrigued, on your toes and pretty frightened. Best of all, Final Destination 5 really solidifies itself as a solid part of the franchise through an incredibly smart and eerily touching conclusion.