On Wikipedia, it declares that Flatliners (2017) is a sequel of the same name. It is a reboot. Throwing in Kiefer Sutherland as a cameo, presenting himself as an older doctor who lectures students, does not make this a sequel. He does nothing. It is obvious that Flatliners (2017) was a tired excuse to re-run the entire concept again.
On paper, it had all the bearings to actually be okay. Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev are not exactly on the top list in Hollywood, but they can act. Also, a story involving medical students essentially killing themselves to become “Afterlife Specialists” sounds somewhat cool. I thought the 1990 version was okay. It did not light up my world but it is fine. Regrettably, it has to be said that the 2017 Flatliners drags the 1990 version from the grave, spits in its face, and makes the story feel woefully worthless.
To begin with, it is exactly the same story, just fresher-looking. Dr Courtney Holmes (Ellen Page) is fundamentally Nelson Wright, who drags a few of her peers to an underground laboratory, to stop her heart, to experience death. Due to Courtney experiencing some benefits from flatlining, the others become intensely competitive and they all want to go under. The experiments have undesired effects. We all know the drill.
Before Flatliners moves to the final act and becomes vaguely interesting, leading up to that, the characters are insufferable. I can safely say that they did zero justice to the original. The characters are, in essence, similar to the predecessor but with a few tweaks to their personalities. Apart from the trio (Ellen, Diego and Nina), the performances do not help. The others are dreadful. It feels to me that director Niels Arden Oplev was attempting to appeal to the Hunger Games audience by making the story feel much younger. There are scenes of moments of mad rushes, sex and extreme partying after each and every flatline, but what was failed to be understood is the source material is regarded as a cult classic. It basically diluted the story and disregarded what made the first one interesting. Do not get me wrong, I like partying more than the next person, but all it did is make the characters come across as arrogant and irritatingly selfish. I shook my head plenty of times at the nonsensical way this movie tried to reboot; its music, editing, flow and direction was almost laughable.
I do not doubt for one second that there is an honest attempt here to honour the classic but it has failed. I am also in disbelief that they murdered the quote “today’s a good day to die”, delivered by an actor who puts zero care into his performance.
In the end, in all honesty, I wanted all the characters to flatline permanently.
Enjoyed reading this review? Then you will probably like listening to us too, so check out our podcast.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.