Is there anything more cruelly crushing than a bad movie ending?
There’s no sensation quite like the sinking feeling you get in your stomach once it becomes clear that no, this director isn’t going to stick the landing, the film’s clever plotting won’t last until the last frame, or the delicately balanced tone has gone out the window in time for the denouement.
This can be bad in any genre, but it’s particularly brutal in action movies, where the pulse-pounding pace means we’ve come to expect an explosive conclusion in line with the film’s until-now-impressive scenes, only to end up with some lame punchline in place of a final chase, fight, or action sequence. It’s often a devastating disappointment and in the case of far too many films, these woeful endings can turn a potential favourite into an easily dismissed also-ran, never to be re-watched and destined to be forgotten.
So we’ve endeavoured to dredge up the best action films with the worst endings for this list, hoping to remind viewers of the otherwise-solid thrillers they endeavoured to forget due to their ignoble ends.
12. Law Abiding Citizen
This gritty 2009 revenge thriller saw the filmmakers
combine Saw-style torture porn with intense action sequences in order to craft
a brutal but brilliant story. Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx both shine in their
respective roles as a broken man driven by a bloodthirsty desire for vengeance,
and the amoral lawyer ensnared in his ambitiously violent plot to enact
For most of its run time, we’re left with our sympathies bouncing between protagonists, and as bloody-minded as Butler’s character is, the uncaring cruelty of Foxx makes him easy to root for through each successively bloodier sequence.
That is, until the film’s weak ending, wherein law and order are restored, the moral questions raised by the film are ignored, and we’re reliably ensured that things won’t get too brutal, lest the conclusion be too surprising or, God forbid, thrilling.