The Scoop: 1990 R, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and Julia Roberts
Tagline: Some lines shouldn’t be crossed.
Summary Capsule: Med students cheat death, only to find that death is a sneaky sunovagun
Justin’s Rating: I sunk your battleship!
Justin’s Review: I think we all go through a short-lived (hopefully) period in our lives when it becomes a fad to sort of hurt yourself. In my computer class in high school, we got a kick out of making ourselves extremely dizzy and then passed out. It’s only a skill useful to have if you feel the constant need to be a drama queen, and faint on command (“You’re dumping me? Ohhhh I feel wooozy!”). But hurting yourself is stupid, and hurting yourself repeatedly is really stupid. A friendly PSA from the folks at MRFH.
Flatliners is about a group of doctors that are really stupid. They work in a student hospital that for all intents and purposes looks like a museum or a cathedral. It’s dark and gloomy and there are statues everywhere. The place already looks like the second circle of hell or something. I’m just assuming that the pediatrics ward had gargoyles and paintings of eternal torment along the walls.
In this happy-go-lucky environment, the stupid doctors throw off the shackles of “medical ethics” and “common bloody sense” to perform a radical experiment. Under hopefully safe conditions, each doctor is killed through a series of drugs and shocks, then revived after having a near-death experience. I guess doctors have more than a healthy morbid obsession with death. Obviously, this town doesn’t get cable.
Keifer Sutherland is the Fiercely Determined Doctor, who spearheads the experiments. Julia Roberts is the Compassionate Doctor Fascinated With Death, who goes around the place interrogating the patients when they almost die. Kevin Bacon is the Wild Card Doctor, who is surefire and confident of his skills, and always breaks the rules. Oliver Platt is the Doctor Who Reminds Us That We Shouldn’t Monkey With Science, and we love him for it. Stephen Baldwin is the Womanizing Slime Doctor, who owns a video camera. They all get very competitive on who can die the longest, which is pretty inane if you think about it.
Want to know what death is like? It’s a big ball of revenge, actually. Each of the doctors experience bad episodes from their past that literally haunt them until they come back to life and right past wrongs. I think I speak for the public when I say that I expected it to be a bit more interesting than an episode of the Twilight Zone. This is where Flatliners goes from an original twist to predictable slosh. The being dead sequences are like hundreds of dream sequences we’ve seen in other films. They’re full of symbology and incoherent stories, and that gets old, fast.
And if, by the opening credits, you’ve already arrived at the conclusion that through death they’ll find that life is wonderful, then congratulations! You’ve reached Obviousville.
- William Baldwin (Joe) plays a self-voyeur in this movie; in the Sharon Stone vehicle Sliver, he plays a similar type of voyeur.
- Did they make this hospital depressing on purpose, so that the patients would want to die?
- Nelson prints a document on a laser printer which makes a sound like a dot-matrix printer.
Nelson: Today is a good day to die.
Nelson: You bring the equipment, I’ll bring my balls.
Joe: I don’t know. Not thinking about the past or the future. I don’t know it’s difficult to explain, maybe impossible.
David: Yeah, dying is quite that way.
Randy: I did not come to medical school to murder my classmates, no matter how deranged they might be!
Nelson: Somehow we’ve brought our sins back physically. And they’re pissed.
Randy: Good thing I didn’t flatline. My 350-pound babysitter would be chasing me for the half-eaten pastrami sandwich I stole from her.
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