Final Destination

on March 17, 2000 by Christine James
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Aviophobic Alex ("SLC Punk!'s" Devon Sawa) has a vision that the plane transporting his French class to Paris will explode; his panicked reaction gets him and several friends ousted from the flight. When his prediction comes true, Alex is suspected of involvement, but he has more dire problems to worry about: Death is apparently determined to fulfill its impenetrable plan, and the survivors of the doomed Flight 180 are one by one meeting mysterious and grisly demises.
   For a horror flick about precognition, "Final Destination" is sadly lacking in the ability to foresee what will thrill and chill audiences. To start, the build-up to the crash is badly botched; the inconsistent jumble of warnings leading up to Alex's premonition are mostly insignificant and coincidental, lessening the impact of those that are preternaturally portentous. The vision and its subsequent actualization go by far too quickly, failing to savor the most intriguing part of the film. And the survivors soon prove to be mostly annoying, unsympathetic and richly deserving of the fate that pursues them (as is anyone who would lean over a computer with a copiously-leaking mug of alcohol while on the Grim Reaper's Most Wanted list).
   Lazy writing cheats plot progression by serving up vital exposition elements via a preposterously omniscient mortician (intimations as to his not-so-secret identity are strangely unaddressed). And the clues Alex receives are disappointingly random and scant; a complex web of synchronicities would have more effectively anthropomorphized Death as a taunting or at least cognizant antagonist. More importantly, it would have been cool. Instead, Alex's gift--and the premise's potential--is underdeveloped and squandered. Starring Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke and Seann William Scott. Directed by James Wong. Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong and Jeffrey Reddick. Produced by Glen Morgan, Warren Zide and Craig Perry. A New Line release. Thriller. Rated R for violence and terror, and for language. Running time: 97 min
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