After seeing the original Flatliners movie starring Keifer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, Willian Baldwin and Oliver Platt, I was interested in how a new batch of Hollywood hotshots would do in reviving the popular franchise. But its not a reboot of the old film. Its basically the same concept with a whole new story with a slight homage to the original. While its edgier and darker than the original, I couldn’t help but feel like something was lacking in this new version of the movie.
Synopsis: Courtney is one of the top medical students in her class with a promising future but a not so sterling past. Because she lost her sister in a car accident that she caused, she feels the need to explore the possibilities of the afterlife to find peace. In order to perform her experiment on the afterlife, she convinces her fellow interns Jamie (James Norton), Sophie (Kiersey Clemmons), Ray (Diego Luna) and Marlo (Nina Dobrev) to stop her heart and document her brain activity after death before bringing her back to life. The experiment jumpstarts her brain and gives her mad skills but also brings back with it some scary consequences. Now each of the interns must face their own demons or die.
Even before it was released, the studios made it clear that Flatliners was a whole new movie whose only connection to the old one was the presence of Keifer Sutherland. Even so, Keifer played two different characters in the two movies to underscore the new film’s independence from its predecessor. Perhaps, this was to avoid comparison between the two movies. It was at the time, a pretty smart choice.
Still, even though it was marketed as such, Flatliners 2017 did not have any qualms in borrowing almost all of the elements of the original movie, making it almost a mirror image of the original. Ellen Page’s character as the ringleader was basically Keifer Sutherland’s Nelson, while the other cast members took on counterpart roles. James Norton’s Jamie was William Baldwin’s Joe, Diego Luna’s Ray was Kevin Bacon’s Labraccio. They all filled the same slots as in the original film defeating the purpose of their earlier press release.
However, I think the main difference between the two movies was the character development. The new movie focused more on style — with what they can do better than the original, which in this case was CGI and better effects.
While the first movie never took the attention away from Nelson’s dilemma from showing his personality and what he did as a child, the new Flatliners never did give Courtney’s story progress even though it had a head start in showing her accident from the beginning. As a matter of fact, it seemed like she was made out to be the decoy when the actual brunt of the movie actually rested with the character of Nina Dobrev’s Marlo. Sorry to say though, the character and the actress itself did not have enough of the chops to pull off a convincing climax. I actually wanted the Marlo to die because of her lack of remorse in comparison to the gravity of her offense. She also got off fairly easy given the magnitude of her sin.
I also thought Sarah was a weakling. All she did was rebel and get mad when she found out there was a consequence to flatlining. Jamie, while he was portrayed as a playboy, at least had some sense to approach the dilemma calmly and rationally. My favorite of the lot was Ray because of his loyalty to his friends and his confidence in his own abilities despite the temptation that flatlining presented.
All in all, the new Flatliners had better style than the original but substance wise, the original was still better overall because of the depth of the characters. Even though the characters of the original were flawed, audiences root for them. The original Flatliners had an all star cast but did not have any problems with giving the lead characters more emphasis. The new Flatliners’ characters seemed too detached and the team behind the movie seemed too timid to give the floor to any particular character. Its lack of conviction resulted in the lukewarm execution that made the movie plain and simple — ordinary.