From Those Who Failed Physics Class?

Movie Title: Final Destination IV (2009)
Spoilers: No

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It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film that takes as much teary-eyed joy in sporting outrageously improbable and brutally reckless physics as in Final Destination IV. In this world, what goes up must…keep going up? It seems the laws of physics have banded together and decided to take on a rebellious life of their own. If Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking moved into this universe, they would be considered retards.

I can just mention the word “physics” or “math” and the blood pressure of some starts to rise, but no worries. You don’t have to be a math major to see that 52 spectator deaths at a racetrack stadium from cars exploding are as horribly unlikely as they are horrible. You don’t need to have proved Fermat’s Theorem to know that chance explosions at racing events are not vengefully executed. But in The Final Destination, explosions – like the totality of the laws of cause and effect that we are shown – have a mind of their own and quite a mean streak at that.

Car tires shoot straight up into the air and stop, and at a 90-degree angle, shoot back down to splatter a girl’s guts out. Entire stadiums full of flag-waving, beer-chugging racing fans get hot engines shot into their laps and their chests crushed. Spectators in the bleachers get blown off of their feet and impaled. The rest get severed at the waist by flying debris.

It begins when Nick O'Bannon (Bobby Campo) and his friends are enjoying their day at the racetrack. Nick starts to get disturbing premonitions of impending disaster. His premonitions are proven true and lives are saved. With the premonition-based knowledge, the deaths of his friends are avoided. As with the other movies of The Final Destination series, this dodging of the hand of death forces fate to get even.

They each begin to die in the order in which they were supposed to die at the track. They get together and try to determine who died in what order to give themselves as much time as possible to be on guard against the hellaciously improbable accidents that keep happening.

You never get to see what lies behind the fatal forces that seek to bring their lives to an end. You have fate working against them—fate causing needless and crazily unlikely occurrences that lead to accidents. Why fate doesn’t just give them all heart attacks or strokes is a mystery, but fate is supposed to be mysterious. Too bad this film isn’t. It’s not hard to see what drives it—money.

What you have in Final Destination 4 is a super cheap Halloween thriller that was never intended to be taken seriously or to win an Oscar. It was quick box office “cash kitty” material, and nothing more. It’s loud, gory, and corny enough to kill the low level of intrigue generated by a few oddly misdirecting scenes. This type of film, by its very nature, is as predictable as a timepiece.

Too much is wrong to mention. Not even a brief moment of angry racial tension is done right. Every character is as one dimensional as those from an eight-year-old’s attempt at a novel. You have no substance whatsoever, not even a defined message. Can you cheat death? Can you die when it is not “your time”? If you avoid death, will it find some other way to catch up with you? My answers are “yes,” “yes,” and “no,” but hell if I could have come to those conclusions by watching. To be appreciated, it doesn’t require any contemplation, just the nerve of a toddler who gets the hiccups when scared.

Candidate for worst movie of the year? I’d say so. Why this is I can only speculate. This could have been because the writers failed physics class (and probably other things in life too) and – honest to goodness – didn’t know how to do any better. But I suspect, this one fails because it didn’t even try.

(JH)

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Grade: D- (1 star)
Rating: R
Summation: After a teen's premonition of a deadly racecar crash helps saves the lives of his peers, Death sets out to collect those who evaded their end.
Director: David R. Ellis
Starring: Bobby Campo “Nick O'Bannon,” Shantel VanSanten “Lori Milligan,” Nick Zano “Hunt Wynorski,” Haley Webb “Janet Cunningham,” Mykelti Williamson “George Lanter,” Krista Allen “MILF / Samantha,” Andrew Fiscella “Charlie 'Gearhead' Kewzer,” Justin Welborn “Racist,” “Racist's Wife,” Jackson Walker “Cowboy”
Genre: Horror / Thriller

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