Final Destination 2
review by Gregory Avery, 7 February 2003

In Final Destination 2, A.J. Cook plays a teenaged girl, Kimberly, who can't even go on a simple road trip with her friends from New York State to Daytona Beach without upsetting Death's Grand Scheme -- in this case, a spectacular multi-vehicle pile-up which, almost, gets the film off to a rousing start (until the filmmakers goof the very end of the sequence). Kimberly "sees" the accident, and who is to perish in it, before making a turn onto the freeway, and takes appropriate action to save their lives. But should they feel good, if not, dare I say it, ENJOY the miracle of being alive? Nooooooooo. Instead, everyone knows they were supposed to buy it, and you feel like giving them all, well, a good talking-to, in the least.

The evocative, even moving, skein of manifest guilt and loss that was in the 2000 film, Final Destination -- a movie which was a case of the right people coming together with the right material at the right time -- has been replaced by having the new film rely solely on the characters having eluded their appointment with Death, turning it into a kind of existential stalker picture. Along with Kimberly, the eluders include a lottery winner (David Paetkau) whom Death seems to have marked because he has bad taste in jewelry and watches; a woman (Lynda Boyd) and her son (James N. Kirk), who, after learning they "cheated Death", tramp off to the dentist's office; a cynical teacher (T.C. Carson); a young woman in a business dress suit (Keegan Connor Tracy, who could be a, ahem, dead ringer for Juliette Lewis); a scuzzy druggie (Jonathan Cherry); and a police officer with sympathetic eyes (Michael Landes). That's how interested the film is in giving the characters any sort of definition. After a couple of sequences where it looks like we're going to see the characters meeting their fates with the unfolding methodical nature of the same such scenes in a Dario Argento movie (although without Argento's style and panache), the picture sinks into total confusion when it introduces the idea that Death's "tying up loose ends" can be averted by the introduction of "new life", which would, apparently, cause Death to throw a shoe and stop messing around with these people. That leads to a hunt for a woman (Justina Machado, who provides the film with its one really good moment, near the end) who's about to have a baby -- "Could we find the pregnant woman now, please?" one shivering character asks -- and a scene where Kimberly realizes that she made a mistake and the only way to rectify things is by driving an ambulance into a lake (said lake being located conveniently close to a hospital -- just like the dentist's office two of the characters go to has nice, big, plate glass windows facing a construction site).

The film provides contemptuous explanations of what happened to the two lead characters in the last film, played by Devon Sawa and Ali Larter -- the talented Larter is brought back for this film to reprise her character, who checked herself into a psychiatric hospital so that she can safely reside in a padded cell, then quickly checks herself back out again. Tony Todd, also in the previous film, returns to do his oogity-boogity bit in one scene, where he gleefully yanks a nipple ring off a corpse with a pair of pliers before performing a cremation. Yankings and blastings and crashings and flattenings are all right, but you need some sort of credibility to keep the audience with you -- otherwise, they roll their eyes and risk venting their wrath. The screenplay for Final Destination 2 that was cooked up by J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress includes such things as characters shrieking warnings like, "A man with hooks is going to kill you!" And the closing credits song, meant to send us on our merry way, has the lyric, "My name is Death,/ Come taste my peppermint-laced breath." Maybe later, brother.


Read Cynthia Fuchs' review.

 

Directed by:
David R. Ellis

Starring:
Ali Larter
A.J. Cook
Michael Landes
T.C. Carson
Keegan Connor Tracy
Jonathan Cherry
David Paetkau
Tony Todd

Written by:
Jeffrey Reddick
J. Mackye Gruber
Eric Bress

Rated:
R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult
guardian.

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