Damien Chazelle's electrifying Whiplash is such a deliriously energetic film from the get-go that it didn't seem possible for the filmmaker to maintain that tempo all the way to the finish. But alas, he did.
Chazelle ultimately delivers what might be the most anxiety-inducing musical performance scene in cinema history, as doggedly determined jazz drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) faces off against his furious former instructor Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), who Andrew got fired for his abusive behaviour.
In revenge, Fletcher intentionally leads the band in a song that Andrew doesn't know, but after initially losing his cool, Andrew returns to the stage and takes control of the band, leading them in a rendition of the classic jazz piece "Caravan."
Despite his initial anger, Fletcher continues to conduct, and after Andrew nails his performance, he decides to keep playing with a stunning extended drum solo, which Fletcher can't help but nod in approval of.
Andrew finally finishes, his brilliance seemingly cemented, and we abruptly cut to black. The End.
By way of Chazelle's drum-tight direction, astounding Oscar-winning editing, and stellar performances from both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, it's a more exciting and emotionally rewarding final "battle" than you'd see in just about any action or superhero movie.
That the film ends so suddenly too, is shrewd in leaving the audience to ponder on both the nature of Andrew's success and the effectiveness (or not) of Fletcher's tyrannical teaching methods.