How It Ends (2018)

Theo James in How It Ends.
Theo James in How It Ends.

Directed by:
David M Rosenthal

Starring: Theo James, Forest Whitaker, Kat Graham, Grace Dove

How It Ends is a Netflix original movie that kind of feels like The Road, without the dramatic intensity. Also, without any point to the story.

Theo James, famous for the Divergent films that I haven’t seen, stars as Seattle lawyer and soon-to-be-father Will Younger, who is engaged to the lovely Sam (Kat Graham). Sam’s father, Tom (Forest Whitaker), is a tough ex-Marine, and father and son-in-law don’t get along at all. This becomes all too obvious as Will, on business in Chicago, visits his parents-in-law for a dinner which ends in a quarrel.

However, after some mysterious cataclysmic event turns the American west coast into a disaster area and cuts off power all across the USA, Will and Tom have to join forces and set off by car from Chicago to Seattle to rescue Sam. Along the way they encounter bent cops and gasoline bandits, as well as weird electric storms, fires and other signs of an ongoing but undefined apocalypse.

While the opening conflict between Will and Tom feels somewhat labored, the beginning of How It Ends still shows some promise. As the duo heads out across the Midwest, the movie tries but fails to keep any tension up. There are the quite predictable post-apocalyptic set-ups where everyone is armed and suspicious of everyone else, and the inevitable gasoline robbers make their sceduled appearance, but these encounters are too generic to really excite. The vague indications of the ongoing cataclysm do add some atmosphere, along with the largely deserted landscape, but to be honest it gets kind of boring as there is no real progression to the story.

What is on the screen is well done in terms of visuals and effects, but with the exception of the sparky Grace Dove the main players never really convince. I love Forest Whitaker, but this is not one of his better moments, and Theo James’ Will is kind of a vacuum. The aimlessness of the story is the main shortcoming of the film, though: The trek across the USA gets pretty boring, and during the final 20 minutes or so the plot just unravels, turns meandering and inconsistent, as if the filmmakers couldn’t quite decide on what the point with it all was. Then a tacked on ending of the symbolic variety and that’s How It Ends, folks. Sorry, but no.

To be honest, this movie might be more at home in the post-apocalyptic genre than among your typical disaster movies, but let’s not split hairs. I can’t really recommend it anyway.

Rating: 2/5

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