On a corporate outing, Sam (D'Agosto) has a horrific premonition that a suspension bridge will collapse. He escapes the doomed bus with six colleagues and their annoying boss (Koechner), but Death isn't letting them get away that easily. Soon they start dying in complicated freak accidents. A federal agent (Vance) questions Sam ("That looks premeditated to me!"), while a coroner (Todd) says they can escape if someone dies in their place. So while Sam tries to get his ex (Bell) back, his friend Peter (Fisher) looks for a way out.
The movie sticks to what this franchise does best: providing elaborate, grisly set pieces that are packed with red herrings as we try to work out how the next person will die. No, there isn't much suspense, and we also can't sympathise with anyone, since the cast is filled with fresh-faced unknowns who have little in the way of actual personality (there's virtually no grief after their friends die). That said, they're engaging to watch, and it's great to have Todd back on board.
But the real star is the hand of fate, carefully plotting each convoluted scenario with both precision and humour. And it's pretty hilarious to watch.
The most hilarious moment comes in the bridge-collapse vision, which deploys 3D and a sailboat mast to comically ghastly effect. Best is the gymnastics sequence , where Wroe dodges a series of amusingly suggestive dangers before everything comes together in an unexpected way. The factory floor and a knife-filled kitchen feel almost simplistic by comparison.
While the structure is essentially the same, the filmmakers at least stir in some nice twists, including the Homeland Security investigation and a final plot loop that cleverly catches us off guard. As always, this is sharp, slick filmmaking with a promising young cast and a witty use of 3D. This isn't the game-changer the franchise needs, but it'll do until part 6 comes along.
Run time: 92 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th August 2011
Box Office USA: $42.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $157.9M
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Production compaines: New Line Cinema
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Fresh: 79 Rotten: 50
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: Steven Quale
Screenwriter: Eric Heisserer
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