By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Shallow, forgettable remake has violence, sex, swearing.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
On the surface, the movie asks whether there's an afterlife and something "more" than what we get here on earth, which is always an interesting discussion. But in reality, it's about apologizing and forgiving, a message that's undermined by the fact that the characters are forced to apologize and forgive to save their own lives.
Positive Role Models
The characters are working hard to become doctors and are shown to care about others from time to time, but the story also shows them to be fairly self-serving. In other words, they aren't deep or well-rounded, and they're not worth emulating. But they are somewhat diverse, and there are three women among the five main characters.
Violence & Scariness
Shocking car crash. A young girl is killed, offscreen. Ghosts/scary stuff. Characters die, dead bodies. Hospital scenes. Needle puncture, with spot of blood. Abortion discussed. Attempt at strangling with plastic bag.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A sex scene with a woman top of a man, but no graphic nudity. A second couple kisses; he takes her bra off from behind, and they're shown lying naked together under a blanket. Sexy/sweaty dancing. Innuendo. Joke about a "testicular exam."
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One use of "f--k," a few uses of "s--t," plus "d--k," "hell," "stupid," "goddamn," and "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). A middle-finger gesture.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Heavy drinking at a party. Drinks shown in a few other scenes. Mention of how medical students get the "best drugs."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Flatliners is a remake of a 1990 thriller about medical students who "flatline" (i.e., die) to try to find out what happens after death. The original movie was smart enough to know how ridiculous it was, but this remake lacks that self-awareness. At least it's a little less intense than the original, though you can still expect to see dying/dead bodies, a brutal car crash, an attempted strangling, ghost/scary stuff, and hospital scenes (including hypodermic needles and drops of blood). Language includes several uses of "s--t," one use of "f--k," and a few other words. Two couples have sex; there's no graphic nudity, but a woman is shown on top of a man, and a different man kisses a different woman, removes her bra, and gets naked with her under the covers. Characters drink in at least one scene, getting happily drunk. Alcohol is shown in other scenes, and drugs are mentioned.
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What's the Story?
In FLATLINERS, medical student Courtney (Elliot Page) is doing her internship but is still haunted by the car crash that killed her younger sister years earlier. She becomes fascinated by patients who die and return to life, describing what they felt and saw. So Courtney decides to kill herself, just for one minute, and asks fellow students Jamie (James Norton) and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) to help. Ray (Diego Luna) and Marlo (Nina Dobrev) join in. The experiment works, and Courtney comes back feeling energized and sharp, as if her brain was "rewired." Jamie decides to go through with it, too, followed by Marlo and Sophia. But in addition to their new lease on life, they start seeing ghosts of their past, at first in visions and then in real life. After a fatal accident, the remainder of the group decides to find out whether apologizing for their mistakes will put the ghosts to rest.
Is It Any Good?
This remake of the popular 1990 hit starts with the same intriguing idea and goes down the same superficial, empty-headed path. Although, unlike the original, this take on Flatliners is sadly unaware of its own shallowness. The original played up its silliness with bold colors and overwrought sets; the best this one can manage is having the women wear heels during their hospital shifts. The original also benefited from the newly minted stardom of Julia Roberts, whose Pretty Woman had recently set the box office afire. This Flatliners does feature some likable actors, but they're hardly the "A" list the original film boasted. (Kiefer Sutherland cameos as an older doctor, 27 years after his role in the original.)
It's too bad the remake couldn't have expanded on the original idea, exploring the concept of life after death. Instead, it goes down the same old "haunted by ghosts of our past" route (it's very convenient how many of these characters have deaths in their past) and uses stale old horror/thriller chestnuts to "scare" us. It does try to shove an "apologizing/forgiving" message down viewers' throats, but that means little when the characters are only doing it to save their own skins. At the helm, director Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Dead Man Down) keeps things polished and professional but fails to make his movie worth experiencing.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Flatliners' violence. How did it affect you? How much is shown, and how much is implied, threatened, or psychological? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Is the movie scary? How do the scary elements fit in with the story about discovery and apology/forgiveness? Why is it sometimes fun to be scared at the movies?
Did you ever do anything in your past that hurt someone? Do you regret it? Would you apologize if you could?
How is sex portrayed in the movie? Is it healthy? Is it based on love or trust? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
- In theaters: September 29, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: December 26, 2017
- Cast: Elliot Page, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna, James Norton
- Director: Niels Arden Oplev
- Inclusion Information: Non-Binary actors, Queer actors, Latinx actors
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence and terror, sexual content, language, thematic material, and some drug references
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
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