At this point, it’s getting harder and harder to remember that prior to landing the Jack Bauer role in 24, there were many people who felt that Kiefer Sutherland had reached the end of his time as a bankable A-list star. Thankfully, 24 served to reestablish Sutherland as a leading man, and he’s never lacked for high-profile work since.
This fall, Sutherland is set to lead another highly anticipated series, that being ABC political thriller Designated Survivor. However, he’s also set to return to the big screen in a project incredibly familiar to the actor.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Deadline reports that Sutherland has now signed on to join the cast of Sony’s upcoming remake/reboot of Flatliners, a 1990 sci-fi/horror film that featured him in a leading role. Directed by prolific 90s filmmaker Joel Schumacher (A Time to Kill, Batman Forever) Flatliners centers on a group of five young medical students who become obsessed with finding out what awaits them on the other side of death. So determined to find answers are these doctors in the making that they conduct secret experiments where one of them is rendered clinically dead for a matter of moments before being resuscitated, in the hopes that they’ll return with stories of existence beyond the grave.
Nelson Wright (Sutherland) is the most focused on this goal, and badgers his comrades into taking things further then they ever really wanted to, especially when one false move might equal dying permanently. Outside of Sutherland, the star-studded cast included the likes of Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt.
Deadline’s report only says that Sutherland will play a “seasoned doctor” in this new incarnation of Flatliners, leaving it unclear as to what extent his character will figure into the plot. Interestingly, it has yet to be specified if the Flatliners’ redo will be a straight remake of the original or simply a soft reboot of the property set in the same universe. If it’s the latter, one wonders whether Sutherland’s doctor might actually be the grizzled adult version of Nelson, who survived the original film. Either way, one assumes that Sony wouldn’t go out of their way to cast a big name like Sutherland unless his role will be important, especially considering that they had to work out a time sharing agreement allowing the actor to shoot both Flatliners and Designated Survivor simultaneously.
Portraying the new core group of five young doctors are Ellen Page, Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries), British actor James Norton, and Kiersey Clemons (Neighbors 2). Details on their individual characters have yet to be revealed, although one could logically assume that Page might lead the group this time out, if only due to her having more experience and arguably more name value than the others. Whether Sutherland’s older doctor ends up being an active participant in the new group’s experiments or simply someone who warns them against messing with death will be interesting to see.
While the original Flatliners was blessed with a great cast and an intriguing concept, it is by no means a universally beloved film, despite having developed somewhat of a cult following over the years. In other words, there’s certainly room for improvement, and with today’s special effects capabilities, the visions of death and the afterlife on display could conceivably far surpass anything Schumacher was able to put together back in 1990. If Sony does right by Flatliners, the day it hits theaters could indeed (in the words of Nelson Wright) be a “good day to die.”
Flatliners begins production later this week, but hasn’t been assigned a release date yet.