Changing it all with the ending or why Reese Witherspoon should have died (warning spoilers)

Do I choose Bane. Or do I choose Captain Kirk. Do I choose Bane or Captain Kirk. Kirk. Bane. Kirk. Bane. Ki….

Sorry Reese seems to have been hit in the face by a somersaulting SUV and has plunged to a very squishy end at the bottom of a hundred foot drop. This is how I wanted the abomination masquerading as a film ‘This means war’ to end. It would have been the perfect ending. It would have been so funny that I would have immediately forgiven the awfulness of the preceding 90 or so minutes and pronounced that I had just seen a cinematic classic. Instead of being just painfully awful the rest of the film would have been an giant meta-satire on hollywood and its depiction of almost anything (relationships, sex, ludicrous yet somehow high paying non-jobs for lead characters) in films. Spoiler this was not how the film ended.

To set the scene a bit the conceit of the film is that Reese Witherspoon’s character has to choose between two secret agents. From this central idea the film then limps painfully along to its climactic scene like a drunk who has accidentally stood in a bear trap. At the finish Witherspoon stands in the middle of the road as an overturned car flips towards her at high speed, one love interested on the left the other on the right. Which one will she choose (at this point you should be imagining dramatic music in your head/humming it out loud)? Reese looks left. She looks right. The decision is so hard she doesn’t know what to do. Never mind the metal truck of death spinning towards her some decisions need multiple cut away shots. In the film she makes a decision and runs to Captain Kirk’s side. In my better version of the film the stupid character is crushed by the truck, plummets of the bridge and dies.

I bring this up because, whilst it was some time ago that I saw ‘TMW’ the vast improvement that my ending has over the one the screenwriters choose has stuck with me. To be honest it is the only reason I remember the film at all. What this highlights to me is twofold. First, the massive effect that a good ending can have on a film. Second the overwhelming importance of the ending. A good ending can rescue a bad film a bad ending can ruin an otherwise good film. I feel this should be basic. It should be storytelling 101. Stories should have an thought provoking beginning, an exciting middle and a well thought out end but all to often more and more films seem not remember this.

Well I’m remembering it now a good ending can change everything. It could have made ‘This means War’ a classic.


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