Flat­lin­ers re­boot is dead on ar­rival

The Leader (Tasman) - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

FLAT­LIN­ERS (R13, 110 MINS) DI­RECTED BY NIELS ARDEN OPLEV

Af­ter a cou­ple of decades watch­ing main­stream movies, you learn there are cer­tain im­mutable rules of the mul­ti­plex uni­verse that are sel­dom dis­obeyed.

‘‘Ev­ery Asian per­son is a ge­nius,’’ is one. ‘‘All po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions will in­volve a visit to a strip club,’’ is an­other. And ‘‘any­one driv­ing a car while chat­ting to their adorable child pas­sen­ger is about to have a crash’’ is a third.

So, I guess we can give Flat­lin­ers at least one star for know­ing the cliches of scriptwrit­ing. Ellen Page has barely glanced at her freckle-faced sis­ter in the pas­sen­ger seat of the Volvo she is pi­lot­ing be­fore she is swerv­ing to avoid an in­con­ve­niently parked dig­ger and hurtling off the side of a bridge and into the river below. Now I think about it, ‘‘safety bar­ri­ers on bridges never work’’ is prob­a­bly an­other movie cliche we can add to our list.

Fast for­ward nine years and Page, hav­ing aged not a day and giv­ing a whole new def­i­ni­tion to the term ‘‘slum­ming it’’, is a se­nior stu­dent at a pres­ti­gious med­i­cal school in an un­named Amer­i­can city. We know that Page is pre­oc­cu­pied with the pos­si­bil­ity of life af­ter death, mostly be­cause direc­tor Niels Arden Oplev – with an al­most en­dear­ing clum­si­ness – in­serts a cou­ple of quick shots of Page read­ing from a badly bodged up web­page called Is There Life Af­ter Death? An­other 10 min­utes of screen time passes be­fore Page hits on the idea of get­ting her uni­formly at­trac­tive and bland cos­tu­dents to stop her heart for a cou­ple of min­utes so she can find out for her­self.

Why she thinks this will work is never made clear. Maybe she got the idea from watch­ing an old 1990 Brat-Pack thriller called Flat­lin­ers? Or per­haps her pro­fes­sor Kiefer Suther­land – who is ap­par­ently repris­ing his role in this 2017 film, but who ac­tu­ally just drops by for five min­utes of screen­time and a pro­ducer’s credit – gave her the idea.

Page ar­rives back from her two min­utes in the great be­yond hap­pily enough, but it’s not long be­fore some­thing that looks and sounds like her ex-lit­tle sis­ter is scam­per­ing around at the edges of her vi­sion and mak­ing mis­chief with the house­hold ap­pli­ances.

Flat­lin­ers has some half-de­cent mo­ments. Arden Oplev has more fun with an old el­e­va­tor than any­one since Alan Parker was hurtling Mickey Rourke down to hell in An­gel Heart (please, god, don’t let any­one re­make An­gel Heart).

And a brief se­quence with noth­ing more threat­en­ing than an old shower cur­tain and some sound-ef­fects is per­fectly ef­fec­tive. But, mostly, Flat­lin­ers is ex­actly the fra­grant pile of poo the trail­ers have been promis­ing.

The cast get their lines out and man­age not to trip over the furniture, but only Page and Kiersey Cle­mons seem like any­thing other than dis­pos­able props in Ben Ri­p­ley’s ter­mi­nally tooth­less script.

Lis­ten, if I sat down and watched the 1990 orig­i­nal tonight, it’s more than likely I’d think it was a laugh­ably daft load of old rub­bish as well. But that film ex­ists in an ado­les­cent sweet spot of my moviego­ing life which I think it earned.

I really can’t imag­ine any­one, in two decades’ time, look­ing back on this Flat­lin­ers it­er­a­tion with any­thing ap­proach­ing fond­ness. In fact, I can’t really imag­ine any­one re­mem­ber­ing it at all.

– Graeme Tuck­ett

Even the im­pres­sive act­ing tal­ents of Ellen Page can’t save Flat­lin­ers.

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