Death has never been closer.7/10
Death is just as omnipresent as ever and is unleashed after one man's premonition saves a group of coworkers from a terrifying suspension bridge collapse. But this group of unsuspecting souls was never supposed to survive, and, in a terrifying race against time, the ill-fated group frantically tries to discover a way to escape Death's sinister agenda. - - (C) Warner Bros
If you're going in to see FD5, it's because you know what you're expecting. Although I'm a fan of the series, I'll admit it did show its staleness after FD2, which is arguably the series' high point. As expected, the formula hasn't changed, although there are a few new tweaks here, the main one including the addition that the survivors can now kill someone to take their life and maybe, just maybe, escape Death's clutches. It's interesting to note that this new twist is the opposite of what was offered in FD2, in which new life can defeat Death, but taking life is much more readily apparent and dramatic than creating new life. Not only do they have to worry about Death, but they also have to worry about what they are willing to do to survive, which provides some very tense external conflict between the characters.
As you guys might have figured out from the above, yes, FD5 has a plot this time around. There's also an unexpected ending that you will make you go OMG or WTF, if it isn't already spoiled to you, of course. It's also good to know that Eric Heisserer's tight script devotes some time to the survivors that are getting picked off. You start to feel for them as they are about to die. As much as I'm thankful for this, it's obvious that people still see these films for the opening disaster and death sequences, and they do not disappoint. Without spoiling anything, the opening bridge disaster is a nasty piece of work, utilizing the 3D to the fullest extent. I'm a huge horror fan, but even I found it very hard to watch, jerking my hands back as each character is killed off in grisly ways. Without a doubt, it's the best opening disaster since FD2.
And the death scenes. Wow. They are disturbing, funny, and shocking and sometimes all at the same time. This is because newcomer director Steven Quale plays with the audience's expectations. He lays out so many things that can kill off a character in a certain scene and when you think this sharp object will impale them, they die in a completely different way. The build up is what makes these films fun to watch (apart from the last one). I also liked the fact that this film returned to the original film's serious roots, which isn't to say that it takes itself too seriously because there's an underlying sense of dark humor that's strangely entertaining and self-aware of itself.
The ensemble cast is a mixed bag for sure. Our protagonist, Nicholas D'Agosto, doesn't really live up to his character's dramatic arc. He seems to overact his lines although he was much better in the second half. Emma Bell is a bit better although she wasn't as good as she was in FROZEN. Miles Fisher also doesn't live up to his character's internal struggle when giving off a whiny performance. However, the other supporting castmembers are quite good, including Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, and Arlen Escarpeta. P.J. Byrne, in particular, is someone you should look out for, providing some of the film's biggest laughs, playing a character you just love to hate. David Koechner also provides some great laughs. I was disappointed with Courtney B. Vance though because he had little to do. Tony Todd is back since he was last seen in FD2 and he's like the American version of Snape (from Harry Potter). I love the way he delivers his lines with one...word...at...a...time.
Visually, the film has some above average production values. As said before, the bridge sequence is like something from a $100 million budgeted action flick. The 3D is the best that has been offered so far this year, which comes to no surprise seeing that Quale has worked with James Cameron on AVATAR. Even from the film's ingenious and original opening credits, we have shards of glass, knives, bodies, and blood flying at us in amazing sharpness. Yet the 3D gimmick can only go so far, and Quale knows that so he doesn't overdo it by providing us with scenes of depth. Honestly, it's the best of both worlds. The soundtrack by Brian Tyler is great as well and is definitely different from the previous entries.
All in all, FD5 brings unexpected new life to the dying franchise. The plot is handled well and most of the performances are good. If anything, this sequel proves that with new blood working behind the scenes can come a refreshing film. If you want to see the film, by all means see it in 3D because it is worth every penny. FD5 is shocking, entertaining, suspenseful, funny, disturbing, and is probably as good as FD2. It seems to be a good year for 5's (FAST FIVE included).