Sam Lawton (Nicholas D’Agostino) is on his way to a company retreat with his colleagues. As their bus crosses the North Bay Bridge, Sam has a premonition that the bridge under construction will collapse in high winds, killing him and his friends except his ex-girlfriend Molly Harper (Emma Bell). In a panic, he persuades Molly, his friends Nathan Sears (Arlen Escarpeta) and Peter Friedkin (Miles Fisher), Pete’s girlfriend Candice Hooper (Ellen Wroe), his boss Dennis Lapman (David Koechner) and co-workers Olivia Castle (Jacqueline MacInness Wood) and Isaac Palmer (P.J. Byrne) to abandon the bus and the bridge with him. The bridge, of course, collapses. They are interrogated by FBI agent Jim Block (Courtney B. Vance) and attend a memorial service observed by Coroner William Bludworth (creepy Tony Todd).
Candice dies when a chain-reaction causes her to fall off the uneven bars and break her back. The next day, Isaac’s head is crushed by a falling Budai statue during an acupuncture session at a Chinese spa. Bludworth tells the rest of the survivors that the only way to cheat Death is by killing someone who was never meant to die on the bridge. Sam and Molly cannot save Olivia, who falls out a window. Sam calculates that Nathan is next.
Nathan, back at work in the factory, accidentally kills his co-worker Roy Carson during an argument. The survivors believe he has claimed Carson’s lifespan. Dennis dies when a wrench is launched by a belt-sander into his face. Sam and Molly get back together again at a restaurant. Peter is unstable after Candice’s death and tries to kill Molly and take her lifespan. Sam and Molly flee the gunshots but Agent Block overhears them and enters the restaurant, to be shot dead by Peter, still trying to kill Molly and Sam. But Peter is killed by Sam.
Two weeks later, Sam and Molly board a plane to Paris. Before taking their seats, they notice a fight between Carter Horton and Alex Browning, who are removed from the plane with Mrs. Lewton and some students—exactly as depicted in the first movie of the series. As the plane takes off, Sam overhears a flight attendant talking about Alex’s vision of disaster and he realizes it is too late for him and Molly. At Roy’s memorial, Nathan learns about Roy’s autopsy and the fact that he was terminally ill, just as the landing gear of Flight 180 crashes through the roof and crushes him.
The film was directed by Steven Quayle and written by Eric Heisserer. It is both the fifth film in the series and a prequel to the first. It was filmed in Vancouver and was released by Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema to mixed reviews. It was praised as an improvement of the series and at the same time criticized for being more of the same. It was at least a return to suspense and a rejection of camp, and the death-scenes were mostly inventive. It made a good deal of money. The idea of the story predating the opening of the first movie was Craig Perry’s. The film is full of hints of the final scene if you catch them. It was one of the best in the series, in my opinion, and a nice finish.
The poster was taken down in the U.K. as likely to cause fear and distress in children. The terrifying bridge collapse at the beginning, almost five minutes long, was favorably compared with the highway pile-up that began Final Destination 2 and was particularly effective in 3D and Imax. The characters, as usual, are named for horror-film directors like William Friedkin, Tobe Hooper, and William Castle. Director Steven Quayle was on the B team of Avatar and the influence of James Cameron on his style can be seen. Devon Sawa, who stared in the first movie, appeared by CGI in the last. Not only was he not paid for the use of his image, he didn’t even know he was in the movie until he was invited to the premiere. It was all in his contract and perfectly legal.