How It Ends
Director: David M. Rosenthal
Starring: Theo James, Kat Graham, Forest Whitaker, Kerry Bishé, Nicole Ari Parker, and Grace Dove
Rating: TV-MA (R)
Runtime: 113 minutes
This is my second review of a Netflix movie on this site. Both films were highly advertised by Netflix. I will say that I am a fan of Netflix and what they are doing and how they are changing the game. They are dumping money into TV and Film and while they miss more than they hit, the entire idea is solid and when they hit, they usually hit very hard (Beasts of No Nation, Stranger Things). How It Ends does not hit it out of the park. Instead, it stumbles at times and it other moments it shows us what it could have been.
Very easy premise to follow here: Will (Theo James) and Sam (Kat Graham) are pregnant and Will has flown from Seattle to Chicago to ask Sam’s father, Tom (Forest Whitaker), for his blessing. While apart for this one night, something has happened on the West Coast. We know the power went out and then cell reception was gone. Soon the power is out in Chicago and the new world starts. The world where the rules change and weak die off. Tom decides that he is going to drive to Seattle and get Sam and basically leaves Will no choice but to tag along. Armed with a Cadillac and a SIG, they take on an ugly America that quickly spirals into desperate survival.
Forest Whitaker is the only character, except for maybe Ricki (Grace Dove), that is actually a character here. Because of this, the pivotal scene between Will and Tom that is supposed to trigger the waterworks in the viewer simply doesn’t. This movie is about the adventure across the country with an odd couple of protective father and a handsome boyfriend. Will represents so many people of the current generation. He is a lawyer and seems to have no real-world skills at all. Tom, a former Marine, is just waiting for something like this happen. He kicks into gear and packs for the trip almost too quickly. Tom seems to have every skill someone needs in this world. He can stunt drive, shoot a gun, navigate shady people, and can sense danger around the corner. Tom = Swiss Army Knife. Will = Nail File. The movie takes place over the course of 7 days. In this time, Will seems to master a weapon, can drive like Bo Duke and has picked up the instincts that made Tom so valuable at the beginning.
What this movie gets right and what I enjoyed the most was seeing how fast society erodes and how the scum rise to the occasion and try and claim authority. Tom immediately understands the change and knows that he can trust no one and that when you are in a fight for survival, you can’t always lend a hand. The movie looks great. Every effect looks great and was probably the bulk of this budget. You feel like you are following them on a road trip across the upper midwest and northwest of the country.
Here is where I tell you what is wrong with this movie…so listen. Netflix is setting themselves up for every reviewer to crack the same joke, so I’ll go ahead and join in on this. They have put out a movie called How It Ends and seemingly have a movie with no ending. When the credits roll…you will most likely be unhappy. This movie does not fly by, so when you feel like you are already sitting down for too long the last thing you want is the movie to end DURING the climax. With Will being a paper-thin character and an ending that apparently made the cutting room floor, it is hard to recommend this movie…but I still would because everything leading there is decent. These are the two main problems, but they are big problems. Will is our main character and we just can’t relate to him and the ending is…well it is the ENDING! If you watch this and you stand up when the credits roll and clap and say “what a brave choice that was by Netflix” then shut up and sit down!
How It Ends
With a movie title that is a punchline to itself, How It Ends gets some things right and other things just so wrong. However, it is nice to look at and a good outing for Forest Whitaker.