flatliners | remake | niels arden oplev | ben ripley | elliot page | diego luna | nina dobrev | medical | college | drama | mystery | sci-fi | thriller | kiersey clemons | kiefer sutherland | united states | canada | madison brydges | jacob soley | anna arden | jenny raven
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Writer: Ben Ripley
Starring: Elliot Page, Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev
For this remake, I wasn't sure if it was going to fall into the category of being a remake/sequel or just taking what they did in the first movie and just redoing it for a modern audience. Seeing Kiefer Sutherland was in this one made me question it more, since he starred in the original. I did end up watching this with Jaime, who never heard of either. I knew she would like at the cast. Before getting to the synopsis, you don't need to see the original to watch this.
Synopsis: five medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience - giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife.
What I think the best thing to do would be to breakdown the characters first. We start with Courtney (Elliot Page). She is driving with her younger sister and they end up in a horrific accident. Courtney survives while her sister doesn't. We then jump 9 years into the future. Courtney is one of the top medical students in the country. She is planning a secret experiment though and needs help to perform it. There is a group of these students at her school as well.
One of them is Ray (Diego Luna). There is a competition between him and Marlo (Nina Dobrev). She thinks that he hates her, but we soon learn that is not the case. Ray is like Courtney that he is just naturally better at this which bothers her. He is a bit older as well being a firefighter before going to medical school. Another doctor here is Jamie (James Norton). He is a trust fund kid that is more interested in partying and chasing girls than he is studying.
The final student we follow is Sophia (Kiersey Clemons). Her mother is very demanding of her and actually moved her into an apartment with her. As things go on, we see the negative effects it has on her daughter. She is panicking that she cannot remember everything that needs to exceed.
Courtney enlists the aid of Sophia and Jamie. She wants to map what happens when someone passes away to see if they can prove near-death experiences are a real phenomenon. This could also lead to answering the question if there is an afterlife. The problem though is that Jamie panics when it comes to reviving her and Sophia isn't strong enough in her knowledge or technique either. They bring in Ray to help them which causes Marlo to follow. They do successfully bring back Courtney who feels great. A bit too great.
There is a side effect she wasn't expecting. For her, it seemed to have rewired her brain and she can access things that she's learned, even briefly, to recall it all now. This gets her brownie points during a meeting with Dr. Barry Wolfson (Sutherland). This sparks Jamie to go under next. The change for him is that his intuition is spot on and he feels untouchable. Marlo volunteers after him as she doesn't want to be left behind. Sophia does the same.
We get to see another side effect though. Courtney sees her sister, Tessa (Madison Brydges) who we know passed away. Jamie sees Alicia (Anna Arden), a woman from his past. For Marlo, a patient that she made a wrong call with in Cyrus Gudgeon (Miguel Anthony) and Sophia a rival from the past, Irina Wong (Jenny Raven). At first it seems like just flashes, but this could be something more. Are they haunted by something supernatural they uncovered or just a strong manifestation of their own guilt for things they've done?
Now that's where I'll leave the story and just say that I thought the original was good. This movie is a remake or a re-imagining of that by updating things. I think that this story is an interesting one that we're getting for sure. This idea of the afterlife is something that people are always trying to figure out and we see it in movies as well. Taking a scientific approach to solving it makes for a good story. Even more so with the guilt that Courtney feels for what happened to her sister. The deeper we go; we see all these characters that go under have their own guilt to deal with. I did like that is that is normal. It makes these science students seem more natural. We all have something we've done that still bothers us, if you have a conscious.
There's another aspect here that I like in that by doing this to themselves, they're 'rewiring' their brain. This is something that there could be a bit of scientific evidence behind. It is something we've seen in movies as well like The Dead Zone. It manifests in different ways here. Courtney and Sophia seem to be tapping into everything they've learned in the past so their memory is even better. Jamie makes snap decisions that are correct. I don't feel we get what Marlo's does, but we don't need it completely fleshed out here. This is an interesting thing to play with, especially with how competitive medical school is. It makes for an interesting look here at the stress. It draws parallels as well to performance enhancing drugs in sports as well.
Another thing that I enjoyed this movie exploring is the idea of the medical profession and the 'old boys club'. What sparks this is Marlo and what she is dealing with. She made a mistake on administering a drug on a patient that killed him. It was an accident, but what I don't like is that there is changing of the record to protect her. This is fueling what happens to her and I don't feel she is ever fully punished. Do I think that she shouldn't allow being a doctor? Not at all, but she did falsify records for some time before coming clean; there should be more than what she actually got in my opinion.
I'll move this over next to the acting. I think for the most part it is fine, but my issue becomes these characters ages don't mesh. Page is good as one of the best young potential doctors in the class, but she is a 30 year old playing someone who is in the younger 20's. She doesn't necessarily look it though. I think there should have been something that she came a bit later like Luna for it to work for me. He is also good as well. Dobrev is solid, but I think she kind of takes a backseat to some of the other characters. Norton plays this role of the jerk very well and I like the growth his character gets. Another issue that arises is that I'm supposed to believe that Clemons and him are the same age. She is also good in her role, but I just have slight issues here personally. I liked the cameo by Sutherland and the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.
The last thing would be the effects. For the most part, I think they do well in showing us what our characters are seeing. They're a bit fantastical which I think works. There really was only one misstep with the CGI there and I don't think it was really needed. Aside from that, we have pretty solid cinematography overall.
In conclusion, this movie wasn't a bad update to the original, but I also don't feel that it was necessarily warranted. Having the reason for Courtney to start this path for them and seeing what the ramifications are good. I like them being haunted by what they’ve done works for me. The acting is fine and really the only issue there is that I don't necessarily know if they all look like they could be in the same class. The cinematography is fine with just a slight misstep with the CGI. There are some creepy elements with the sound design that I will give credit to along with the music fitting for what was needed. Overall, I would say that this is just over average for me. I don't know if I'll ever really get it to go higher than that though.
My Rating: 6 out of 10