Reviewed by: Carole Stewart McDonnell
Death in the Bible
Questions and answers about Hell
Questions and answers about Jesus
Questions and answers about the Bible
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
God’s sovereignty, election, and man’s free will—what does the Bible say? Answer
Does the Bible allow for the possibility of reincarnation? Answer
What is the being of light encountered in near death experiences? Answer
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed by depression? Answer
VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
|Featuring:||Devon Sawa, Seann W. Scott, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Chad E. Donella|
|Producer:||Warren Zide, Craig Perry, Glen Morgan|
|Distributor:||New Line Cinema|
“Final Destination” is a movie which plays with the premise: what if your time had come and you somehow managed to trick death? What if the Earth behaved like the great fish that swallowed Jonah and tried to vomit you out… with electric wires, knives and other sharp implements acting as the vehicles of such menace? “Final Destination” is a teenage slasher film that concerns itself with this question and other spiritual matters such as fate, premonition and death. Complicated issues all. Who has not felt that she lives in a rhymed universe? We turn down a road we haven’t walked on in months and bump into an old friend who just happens to be in town for that one day? We feel that God planned a sweet surprise for us. But does God plan nasty surprises? Does he bring all the forces of the world in league with death to do us in? Does he “set us up”, so to speak, for malevolence? I think not.
In the film, Alex (Devon Sawa) and his classmates—a curiously Caucasian bunch of people, considering the high school is located around New York City—are preparing for a flight to France. Alex can’t quite shake an eerie feeling: something just doesn’t feel right. Signs and portents are everywhere. True, they might be misinterpretations brought on by pre-flight jitters, the teenage obsession with death, and/or the prevalence of so many news stories about plane crashes. But Alex is wary. At last he boards the plane and has a startlingly realistic vision of the plane crash. Heeding his premonition, Alex manages to get his friends off the plane. One would think there would be great rejoicing. Well, there isn’t. Turns out saving seven people including his French teacher brings out everyone’s issues. There is survivor’s guilt: “Why did I live?” There is survivor’s outrage: “Why did YOU live?” There is people’s fear of the irrational (as exemplified by Alex). And then there is death, a malevolent irrational force out to destroy the people who escaped their appointed time. Survivors are picked off one by one, in especially nasty ways. Two FBI types are keeping watch on Alex because they suspect him of being the human cause of all the deaths. And Alex is all alone with his spiritual crisis, not a helpful parent or knowing clergy in sight. (A ridiculous grief expert appears early in the film, but is soon whisked away.) Like many troubled children in film, books and real life, Alex is left alone to figure out the spiritual world all by himself.
Many Christians will be offended by the movie’s attitude towards God, the typical pose of the arrogant thinker. And the “design” for death’s relentless march against the escapees is so dumb it will offend creative types who had hoped for some psychological or spiritual insightful reason as to why death kept pursuing these kids. Instead, we get something quite banal. Spiritually and creatively, this movie is unfulfilling. The ending made sense only in a cute funny way and the kneejerk disdain against God and the pseudo-deep judgments of Him shows a kind of unthinking spiritual sloth. A little daring cynicism in a teenage movie is okay. Teenage films are often about cynical posing, and even seasoned Christians get doubtful about God’s goodness at times. But God is implicitly and explicitly cursed in this film. He is judged as an (expletive)-up God, a God who has nothing better to do than to mess up the world.
The movie is aimed at a teenage market and so a teenage challenge to God for making the world as it is can be expected. Kids need to understand the world they live in, especially a world where death seems to be cruel, sudden meaningless and indiscriminate. But, the movie could have been more responsible. Kids are impressed by even the stupidest of movies. God is barely mentioned in the movie and the mention of Him is a judgment against His sanity. The remedy to Alex’s problem—if there is a remedy—is to be found in something quite simple, unspiritual and mechanical. (I left the theater giggling.) And in the end, there is no free will or God-with-us to pray to who can change the situation.
The movie does show how paranoid people can get when they live by signs and portents. The Bible says the Holy Spirit is our guide. It also says that God’s word is a light unto our feet. We are told in general what to avoid—drunkenness, the adulteresses’ house—and we are given a general idea of what will happen if we go down the wrong path. We are told to avoid divination and some of Alex’s signs come perilously close to fortune-telling. About death, Christians are also told that death is the great enemy of man and the Christian God is also the enemy of death. We know that Jesus holds the keys to death and hell, but He does not wield those keys maliciously. For those who fear death and become obsessive about it, we are told that God came to deliver those who lived in fear of death all their lives. The Lord also told us in The Lord’s Prayer to pray for our safety: “Deliver us from evil.” That is really all we can do when faced with the problem of accidents and sudden death. We are human and we may become as obsessed as Alex does in this film. But at least there is a dialogue going on with a God we consider good. God is in the picture. The good God is NOT in this picture. But what can be expected of a film made in a world full of slasher films and mass murders? The only thing that can be expected is that Death rules.
See our review of Final Destination 3