Steven Quale, James Cameron’s second-unit director, makes a solid feature directing debut in the fifth installment. He wisely concentrates on staging imaginative mayhem and doesn’t try to make the film carry more dramatic weight than it can support. There’s nothing revolutionary in screenwriter Eric Heisserer’s script, but luckily the story is only a tiny part of the “FD” experience.
Once again we follow a handful of attractive folks who were fated to die in a disaster but escape thanks to a warning premonition by one of the survivors. Death, who doesn’t like to miss his quota, reclaims them one by one through a succession of freak accidents involving everyday objects.
Over the previous four films, characters have snuffed it in just about every manner except falling into a box of mouse traps. The set-ups for each date with doom turn every electrical connection, loose screw and cup of water on the set into a potential assassin. Just try not to giggle when you’re watching out for malicious tea kettles and sinister desk fans.
In outing No. 5, Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) and Molly (Emma Bell) avoid the collapse of a suspension bridge but then slowly start to realize that the Grim Reaper has come calling for them. Tony Todd returns as the continuing character Coroner Bludworth, appearing at each accident site with dour warnings about death’s invincibility. Given his physical and vocal resemblance to insurance pitchman Dennis Haysbert, these scenes look like morbid Allstate commercials.
The characters’ exits are imagined with icky ingenuity and brash bad taste. I won’t tell you about the sailboat mast or the eyeball or the flying tire except to praise the thought and craftsmanship that went into making the audience cringe and groan and giggle simultaneously.
This is tip-top trash.