Final Destination (2000) / Horror-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for violence and terror, and for language
Running Time: 98 min.
Cast: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck
Director: James Wong
Screenplay: Glen Morgan, James Wong, Jeffrey Reddick
Review published September 17, 2000
Unlike most other films of its subgenre, this teen slasher pic actually has an original idea and thoughtful premise. It starts off with a class field trip to Paris that gets a boy named Alex (Sawa, The Guilty) and some of his classmates thrown off when he has a premonition that the plane is going to crash and freaks out. The plane does end up crashing and now Alex is seen as a freak by those around him. They say you can't cheat Death, and it appears he may be back to finish the job when those who were thrown off the plane begin dying in strange and elaborate ways.
Giving credit where credit is due, Final Destination does maintain a watchability due to some nifty direction by Wong (The One, Final Destination 3), who keeps the pace brisk enough for you to almost keep laughter in check at all of the mindless nonsense that appears in scene after scene.
Almost. While well-conceived and well-directed it may be, in all other aspects Final Destination is a travesty of poor talent. Actors cast on their looks alone, writing ranging from "so stupid it's laughable" to "so ersatz-profound it's laughable", and characters so devoid of genuineness that we not only don't care if they die, but we may actually cheer when they do all contribute to making what could have been a breath of fresh air into just another dumb teen horror flick.
When every actress looks like a fashion model, even when they are going to do some welding, and every male actor sports the freshest gear and hairstyles that look like they were groomed with mangled combs (messy is "in", so I hear), it's pretty obvious that it's going to be a paint-by-numbers "pick off the teens one by one" slash-and-gash. The plot becomes so predictable, that I actually guessed the exact order of death including who would survive from the first moment I saw the group. I kept waiting for the screenplay to throw in a curve once in a while, but it just kept pitching straight down the middle of the plate.
Perhaps Final Destination can be a fun movie when watched with drunk and rowdy friends, but this "fun" really only comes in laughing at how stupid it is. The true "final destination" for this film should be the bottom of a wastecan.
-- Followed by Final Destination 2
©2000 Vince Leo