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Movie Review

Death, they say, will come for us all. But for most, hopefully, it won't be quite as messy as it is in the Final Destination movies.

This is, as you might've gathered from the title, the fifth installment of that fearsome franchise, so the spiel is not new: Several youngish, reasonably attractive people somehow escape certain death after one of them has a premonition. But Death, who in the Final Destination films appears to be a very rigorous supernatural accountant—has a quota to keep. And he grimly begins dispatching those survivors in a variety of gory, completely outlandish ways. If I were in a Final Destination movie right now, for instance, I might die from a highly pressurized, exploding pop can. Or a doozy of a paper cut. Or from a common computer keyboard that suddenly was flooded with an high-voltage electrical charge that c—

Ha-ha! Just kidding! Still alive here, fully capable of finishing my review.

In this particular Final Destination, the lucky premonitioner is a guy named Sam, who saves a handful of friends and acquaintances from a massive collapsing bridge accident. Naturally, they all feel quite fortunate, and one might even imagine they feel a new purpose in life—that perhaps God allowed them to live for a sacred calling.

Well, up until one of them, Candice, a college gymnast, is killed in a horrible accident involving a loose screw and a bowl full of chalk dust. And then Isaac, the requisite jerk-nerd, dies from injuries received at an Oriental massage parlor. It's not long before the surviving survivors surmise their survival status might be slipping slightly askew—particularly after a creepy, uncanny coroner chastises them for still being among the quick and not the dead.

"There's a wrinkle in reality," he says with a stern, foreboding glower. "And that wrinkle is you."

But there is a solution, says he (perhaps to drum up more business). If the survivors can get some other random folks to take their place—that is, kill them—Death's ledgers won't be lopsided any longer. All Death cares about, really, is getting the numbers to add up.

Or, I guess in this case, subtract down.

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Positive Elements

Sam doesn't let a little thing like being stalked by Death get him down. And he acts on his premonition, saving some and trying to save others. Even when his friends start dying like so many squished mosquitoes and Death is taking aim at him with his flyswatter of doom, he still refuses to get all jittery. "We can't live our own lives in fear, Molly," he says to his ex- and maybe new girlfriend. And with that, he promptly invites her to accompany him to Paris so he can become a big-time, hopefully not-dead apprentice.

Other than Sam's stellar attitude, and unless one considers Death's rather tireless work ethic, there's not a whole lot of other positive stuff going on since Peter does indeed try to kill someone else to take his place and the others (Sam excepted) don't really get much of a chance to make a choice.

Spiritual Content

Well, you've got the premonitions, which must come from somewhere. And there's the presumed specter of a conscious, vengeful, bored Grim Reaper, cutting down people in their prime. But looking for deep (or even shallow) spiritual messages within Final Destination 5 would seem to be a rather macabre exercise. I mean, why would someone receive a vision that would invariably save lives if those same lives were literally destined to be extinguished shortly down the road? If there is some sort of divine, supernatural plan at work here, it appears as though it's plotted by some Dilbert-esque, pointy-haired boss god.

A disturbing thought, that.

Nevertheless, at least one of our victims expresses hope in an afterlife: As he's about to kill someone, he asks that they track down his dead girlfriend and convey his, um, undying affection.

Isaac's room in the massage parlor boasts two rotund Buddha statues. "Yo, Buddha!" he says to them. "Slow down on the rice cakes!"

Sexual Content

There's a sleazy line about staging a "naked team building [exercise]." And Candice skewers a pretty co-worker with insinuations that the woman is quite casual about her sexual habits. We see that woman strip off her shirt to prove she's not fat. We hear a joke about "not catching any diseases unless I earn them."

Molly and Sam spend the night together. But not necessarily for sexual purposes. Later they hop on a plane to France. So it could be implied that they're cohabiting. Couples smooch.

Violent Content

If we extend the conceit that Death is an accountant, I can definitely say is that the sums I'm about to give you are not net but (ahem) gross. We see about 10 people "really" die in Final Destination 5, and the soul who is merely shot several times in the chest gets off easy. Candice breaks pretty much her entire body in a gymnastics accident, and we see shards of bone sticking out of her skin as she lies on the mat in a very unnatural way. Isaac is skewered by acupuncture needles before having his head caved in by a falling statue. A woman has her eye and hand carved up by an eye-surgery laser run amok, but only dies after she crashes through a window and plummets to a squishy end: One of her eyeballs bounces out of her head, landing in the street where a car runs over it, deflating it like a spent balloon.

People are killed by fire, industrial hooks, flying wrenches, rotisserie spears, airplane wings and landing gear. They're injured by boiling cooking oil, falling screws, bits of metal and gravity. And the death toll is actually much higher than I previously let on, considering the massive number of unnamed, unseen people who are killed in the bridge collapse. (We see the cars and trucks topple into the water.)

As for the 10 or so "special" deaths, we almost have to count them twice. After all, we see everyone die in Sam's premonition too, in totally different ways. Instead of dying in a gymnastics accident, Candice is impaled by a sailboat mast. Isaac doesn't die during a trip to the masseuse but from a long fall inside a bus. Characters we know and, presumably, are supposed to care about are killed via scalding tar (we see the guy's skin bubble off as he screams), flying rebar (impaling a body in several places) or sliding metal (slicing a man in two). A woman survives a long fall to the water, only to be crushed by a plummeting car.

Then, as an added "bonus," the Final Destination filmmakers saw fit to replay scores of casualties from the previous four pics. Clearly, there's was an arms race going on in the editing room. And a heads race. And a …

Suffice it to say that I cannot convey to you the level of blood, gore and flying limbs we see careen around the screen. There's less raw meat in a sausage factory.

Crude or Profane Language

With all the death and dismemberment going on, it's remarkable that anyone has time to say anything. But the script still manages to squeeze in a half-dozen f-words, twice that for s-words and a splattering of other profanities, including "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch," "d‑‑n," "h‑‑‑," p‑‑‑ed" and misuses of God's name. Crude terms for body parts are used.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Drinking to their quickly dropping comrades, a handful of friends share a six-pack of beer and a bottle of whiskey. When Sam invites Molly to come to France, she says in response, "How many drinks have you had?" "Enough," Sam says. Later, they share some wine over dessert.

Other Negative Elements

Isaac steals stuff from his dead co-workers' desks. He tells someone that "bald is the new black" and is incessantly rude.

Conclusion

"Death don't like to be cheated," the creepy coroner tells our soon to be toast heroes and heroines.

Well, I'd like to think that moviegoers don't like to be cheated either. But for a decade now, the makers of the Final Destination films have been cheating fans like a Vegas card shark—making the same movie again and again while somehow enticing viewers to pay to see the same thing.

Nobody's coughing up money to see a compelling story, for there is none. You don't root for sympathetic characters, for there aren't any. You can't even come to settle petty wagers over who lives or dies: Almost everyone dies in these things. The only true sport here is to see how they die—to witness the outlandish torture and punishment and laughably gross conclusions these paper-mache people suffer.

And what a sad sport that is.

Final Destination 5 is, unfortunately, not the grimmest or the grossest film I've seen. But it may be the most inexplicable and irredeemable one.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Genre

Horror

Author

Cast

Nicholas D'Agosto as Sam Lawton; Emma Bell as Molly Harper; Miles Fisher as Peter Friedkin; Ellen Wroe as Candice Hooper; Jacqueline MacInnes Wood as Olivia Castle; P.J. Byrne as Isaac; Arlen Escarpeta as Nathan; David Koechner as Dennis; Courtney B. Vance as Agent Block; Tony Todd as Bludworth

Director

Steven Quale ( Into the Storm)

Distributor

Warner Bros.

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

August 12, 2011

On Video

December 27, 2011

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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