Review by Tres
Opening Line: It’s a good day to die.
In 1990 Joel Schumacher released through Columbia Pictures one of the original star studded casts in one movie: Flatliners. Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, and Oliver Pratt.
Kiefer Sutherland had recently drawn attention to himself in Stand By Me, The Lost Boys, and Young Guns and currently the star of 24.
Kevin Bacon had recently drawn attention to himself in Footloose, Quicksilver, and White River Summer and currently stars in The Following.
Julia Roberts had just come onto scene previously with Mystic Pizza, Steel Magnolias, and Pretty Woman and currently has been seen in Mirror Mirror, and Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress in August: Osage County.
The least familiar of the 6, would probably be the second youngest of the 4 Baldwin brothers, William. William Baldwin had just hit the big screen in Born on the Fourth of July and Internal Affair and currently can be seen in different series like Hawaii Five-O and Copper.
Wrapping up the top billing is Oliver Platt. He had just been seen in Married to the Mob and Working girl as supporting characters. Of late he just played Paul Jamison in The Big C and continues to be a supporting character in several movies, even X-Men: First Class.
The premise of the movie: What happens when you die?
These 5 characters are brilliant medical students finishing their final years in medical school and working with patients. They hear the stories from those who have legally died and been brought back, what they saw, and so on. So the leader of the group, Nelson (Kiefer Sutherland), decides “It’s a good day to die.”
Nelson decides that he will allow his group to kill him, leave him dead for a short period of time, and then bring him back. One by one they go through the process. Then David (Kevin Bacon) goes, followed by Rachel (Julia Roberts) and Joe (William Baldwin). Randy (Oliver Pratt) will not go under, nor will he actively participate in their death’s. He’s simply there to document each death on camera; “I did not come to medical school to murder my classmates, no matter how deranged they might be.”
Each one of the group that allow death to come to them, have side effects to their journey. Due to their pasts, people and situations continue to show up. First, Nelson gets followed and then attacked by the spirit of a young boy that he and his pals were responsible for his eternal resting place. David then has a foul mouthed little girl show up yelling profanity and derogatory statements at him when he is out in public; connecting him to how he bullied a little girl at elementary school. After her death, Rachel begins to have run-ins with her deceased father whom committed suicide and she has often wondered if she was the cause. Then for Joe death brings visions of girls, many girls, all of whom he had manipulated for sex and video-taped them without their knowledge and permission.
So crossing the line of life and death connects you to the evils of your past?
Going from life to death connects you with the dead?
It could be looked at as an, “I see dead people”, about 9 or 10 years prior to its release.
Flatliners was a totally different view and concept in the early 90’s and brought about some intense acting from these (back then) upcoming stars. Their acting brings forth visions of fear, anger, heartbreak, and true frustrations. This movie brings out some great strengths in each of their acting abilities. In 1990 it was an amazing movie to watch. It’s still a great movie to watch.
This filming took a different approach that you didn’t see in movies at that time. The scenery wasn’t intense by any means. However, the lighting and the set-up for the scenes were truly great for this time. The filming still stands as a great set-up today.
A warning to all: This movie is rated R. There is nudity when Joe is involved with his past. Foul and abrasive language when David is confronted by his past. A brief scene involving drugs when Rachel deals with her past. There is also continued violence when Nelson has to deal with his Billy Mahoney.
The close-knit team begins to fall apart when their struggles begin because deceit and secrecy plagues each one as they die and come back to deal with their demons. One of the arguments that takes place is between David and Nelson when David confronts him about not being honest about what he saw and has experienced since.
Dealing with your past sins is the end result to end their torture. But as Nelson has to wonder; how can you deal with demons when the demons are dead?
One of the issues this movie brings about is afterlife and what it looks like. For Christians: when death comes for us do our souls go into heaven or not? 1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us that “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first;”. The question that often is battled, How can the dead arise first if they are already in heaven? Yet, you will often hear how loved ones are in Heaven watching over us.
The aspect that I appreciate more is the concept of correcting our past mistakes? Should we? In Matthew 5:23-25 Jesus himself says, “If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, 24 leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art with him in the way; lest haply the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.”
Jesus is very clear about correcting our wrongs and making them right. The way David goes about handling his past sins is one that I truly appreciate. It’s even more touching to me as a past tormented student, but also as a teacher who strives to protect his students from such nonsense.
This is a good movie. It’s one I have in my collection and I have watched many times over the past 2 decades.
It’s an interesting concept, one I hadn’t seen before.
The acting is beautiful and well done by each of the stars.
The nudity and the language are the 2 aspects that knock this movie down for me.
I have to give it 3 stars, but one that’s truly worth watching.