Ellen Page in a scene from the movie Flatliners.
Ellen Page in a scene from the movie Flatliners. Michael Gibson

MOVIE REVIEW: Flatliners reboot suffers same flaws

FLATLINERS, Mark II, is more push-start than reboot.

The 25-year-old sci-fi classic might feel like a contemporary ride, but it has many of the same flaws as the original model.

You'd have thought the filmmakers would have done a bit more work on the chassis in the intervening period.

Like the 1990 version, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon and Julia Roberts, the new film features intelligent performances from a young-ish cast.

Juno's Ellen Page leads the well-matched ensemble as Courtney Holmes, a medical student haunted by her role in the car accident that resulted in the death of her sister.

Obsessed with guilt, Courtney develops an experiment by which she can experience the afterlife for herself.

With the aid of her fellow students, and a disused emergency ward in the basement of the hospital, Holmes intends to flatline for 60 seconds before being brought back to life to document the experience.

James Norton, Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev in a scene from Flatliners.
James Norton, Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev in a scene from Flatliners. Michael Gibson

When inexperience threatens to derail the experiment - for good - her desperate mates call Diego Luna's older, wiser colleague, who resuscitates the "patient" in the nick of time.

The rush of the near-death experience bonds the gang. Holmes' heightened awareness and razor sharp recall encourage them to try it for themselves.

James Norton's rash, impulsive, risk taker goes next.

Nina Dobrov's ultra-competitive high achiever and Kiersey Clemon's dutiful, hot-housed daughter follow.

All of which involves the same unnecessary element of repetition that interrupted the pacing of the first film.

Like its predecessor, the new version also nails the horror elements.

Danish filmmaker Neils Arden Oplev (who directed the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), establishes a creepily institutional atmosphere from the get-go.

And the characters' visions of the afterlife - each of them is confronted by a past sin - are both evocative and disturbing.

Diego Luna, Ellen Page and Nina Dobrev in a scene from Flatliners.
Diego Luna, Ellen Page and Nina Dobrev in a scene from Flatliners. Michael Gibson

Flatliners' main problem - and again this can be traced back to the film's roots - is its resolution.

Having set up a daring, provocative premise - in which a bunch of cocky, self-entitled medical students think they can cheat death without any lasting consequences - the filmmakers reveal themselves to be surprisingly gutless.

Rather than following through, like their characters, they take refuge in pop psychology, delivering a shallow, unsatisfying message about taking responsibility for one's past mistakes.

When it was announced last year that Kiefer Sutherland had signed onto the project, he described it as a sequel rather than a remake. Reports, at the time, said Sutherland would reprise his role as Nelson Wright.

Now there's an idea that might have taken us somewhere interesting.

The finished film, however, makes no mention of past experiments. And Sutherland's character goes by the name of Dr Barry Wolfson.

Despite mixed reviews, the 1990 version of Flatliners went on to become a cult hit. Perhaps that's what ultimately persuaded the makers of this new version to play it just as safe.



Stars: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, James Norton.

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Rating: M

Verdict: 3 stars


News Corp Australia

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