Top 5 lackluster endings in big Hollywood movies


A couple of months ago I named my top 5 Spectacle Endings, well now I shift my focus on 5 movie endings that I thought lacked spectacle and excitement. As I mentioned on my last article, I love big Hollywood event/tentpole films. Yes I know most of them aren’t what you called “great” cinema but hey that’s the goal of these films. They weren’t made to win Oscars or get approval from critics. They were made to entertain the masses and of course earn lots of cash. So when I pay to go see these movies that cost over $100 mil or more, I expect to be entertained and be transported to another world. I also expect to see a huge spectacle to close the feature, yet some didn’t quite accomplish that.

This list contain films I think the studio or filmmakers should’ve done a better job in giving us the big spectacle that we expect to see. Here they are in no particular order:

Obviously since we’re talking about movie finales, spoilers should be expected

Clear and Present Danger


This is probably my second favorite film of the Jack Ryan series and it was my most-anticipated film back in the summer of 1994. I’d just finished reading the book at the time and was super excited to see the film version. Despite some changes that were made from the book, I still thought it’s a solid action thriller. Unfortunately it also has one of the worst-staged action sequences ever filmed.

The film ends with what was supposed to be a big and elaborate action sequence where Ryan, Clark and Chavez (fans of the books knows that this trio shared many adventures together), rescued the soldiers who were being captive by the drug cartel. The shootout sequence was poorly-staged and boring, while I expected to see some really intense and exciting sequence. I couldn’t find the clip online but I assume most people have seen the film and know what I’m talking about. A few years later, the film’s director (Phillip Noyce) admitted that he should’ve done a better job of shooting that scene. He actually wanted it be bigger and more elaborate than the ambush scene in the middle of the film when Ryan and the FBI agents were ambushed by the drug cartel thugs.

The Man with the Golden Gun


Of course when we talk about action films, a James Bond film must be in the conversation. Roger Moore’s second outing as 007 was considered one of the worst in the franchise, in fact after this film’s poor performance at the box office, United Artists was thinking of dropping the Bond franchise. Thankfully the next one made lots of cash and we still get see Bond on the big screen today. Anyway back to this Bond flick, it hardly have any big action scenes in it. Besides the big car chase in the middle of the film, it didn’t really have any big shootouts or spectacle you’d expect to see in a Bond film. Now I thought the concept of the story was pretty great, Bond goes up against another super assassin, so you’d think we get to see big hand-to-hand combat and shootouts. Well for the film’s climactic battle, we got this scene below:

Pretty weak right?

The Bourne Identity


I was hesitant to include this one on my list because I thought the sequence was very well-shot but I wanted it to be bigger and see more of it. This scene where Bourne took out some henchmen ended too quick and just felt kind of rushed:

Originally the film was supposed to have a big spectacle the climactic action scene, you can read about it on this post on alternate endings.

Mission: Impossible 3


My least favorite Mission: Impossible film and it contained probably one of the most boring hand-to-hand combat sequence I’ve ever seen. See the below clip:

The first two films closed out with some crazy action sequences and I expected to see the same for this one. Unfortunately, JJ Abrams decided to give a typical fight scene and a weak shootout. Don’t get me started on a later scene when Ethan’s wife, who’s a nurse with no weapons training whatsoever but somehow was able to take down the main villain, who’s a trained IMF agent. Lame, lame!

Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides


This 4th Pirates of the Caribean movie was just boring to sit through but I decided to watch the whole film and hoping that it would least have some kind of big spectacle action scene for the ending. Sadly it did not and I wish I could have 2 and half hours of my life back. I thought the scene was unimaginative and well boring, I still couldn’t understand how the film made over a billion dollars at the box office. See the scene below.

Honorable mentions:

World War Z

Since this is a recent film, I assume many people already know about its troubled production and that the entire third act of the film had to be re-shoot. According to some reports and director Marc Forster, the top executives at Paramount felt the original ending was too brutal and didn’t have any closure, so they wanted a lighter ending and have Pitt’s character get reunited with his family. Well I called BS on that, I think the executives realized had they went with that big battle ending, the film would’ve received an R rating and of course it wouldn’t have earn as much as it did at the box office. In an interview with Forster, which you can read here, he felt the original ending was too big and that the audience can’t really relate to Pitt’s character. He prefer the more suspenseful but quiet ending.

Now he could be telling the truth or he’s just basically saying that because the film was a big hit. I mean they spent weeks and millions of dollars on that sequence and If I was the director, I’d be pissed that they didn’t want to use it or even show it to the public. I wonder what he’d say had the film was a box office dud. Personally I didn’t care for that more quiet and suspenseful ending, since the film was set up as action/adventure. I wanted to see a big spectacle battle to close out the film. Hopefully Paramount will release another cut of the film with its original ending and let us the paying audiences decides which version is better.

Django Unchained

Again this is a recent film so I assume most have seen it, so I won’t go deep into the climatic ending. I just felt it was more anti-climatic, I wish Tarantino had closed out the film with a big shootout that he showed earlier in the film. Here’s the clip:

The World Is Not Enough

Yes it’s one of the worst Bond films but there were some cool action sequences in the film, I really enjoyed the opening boat chase and the helicopters attack at the caviar factory. For the film’s finale, I thought we would see some really big and elaborate action sequence, but what we got was a lame shoot-out inside a submarine. That entire sequence was pretty brutal to sit through, I kept thinking to myself, who approved this scene when it’s written? I can only assume it sounded much more exciting in concept but somehow the execution was sloppy and not very creative. I remember I kept yawning when I saw it in theater and wish the film would end already, the scene felt like it went on forever. Sorry I couldn’t find it online but I think most people know what I’m talking about.


So what do you think folks, do you agree with my choices? Feel free to share your picks for the lackluster ending in big movies.

37 thoughts on “Top 5 lackluster endings in big Hollywood movies

  1. The Man with the Golden Gun’s one-man showdown was actually a great idea. The problem was the lame way they ended it; such a great assassin wouldn’t get fooled so easily!

    I think of the end of Clear and Present Danger as the showdown when a snarling Harrison Ford confronts the President. It may be telling that I barely remember that gunfight, so it probably didn’t work so well. Still, I like it a lot better than Patriot Games.

    The World War Z finale was strange. I think it could have been a lot worse, but I’m not sure it was really needed. I’m not sure I like the big battle idea either, though.

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah I love the concept of The Man with the Golden Gun but the execution of the actual film just wasn’t that great.

      I love that scene where Ryan yelled at the President but I really wanted to see a huge action sequence for the climatic scene. In the book there was this huge shootout where Ryan and a group of Navy Seals went in and rescued the soldiers. I was hoping for something similar to that. And yes it’s a better film than Patriot Games.

      I’m more curious about the original ending to World War Z, to completely re-shoot it and then won’t show the original to anyone, that’s kind of strange to me. Hopefully they’ll integrate that sequence into the sequel.

  2. Wow, these are some lousy endings, though I have to say I never noticed anything off about BOURNE IDENTITY until now. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN actually lost me with the second one.

    RE: MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN…I’ve always thought that was EON’s way of paying homage to Orson Welles’ LADY FROM SHANGHAI. No one wants me to get started on WINE 😉

    The Bond movies remind me of one surprisingly good ending, where I was ready to die from cheesiness but it turned out OK, and that is PACIFIC RIM. Without giving away too much…I felt like they were setting us up for a total Bond final scene, but somebody somewhere had some restraint.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Paula. I liked The Bourne Identity’s ending but I wanted it to be bigger like the sequels. I love the big car chase finally in The Bourne Supremacy. The Pirates films are kind of lame but I did enjoy the big spectacle of the last two movies, but the last one was just lame.

      I’ve never seen Lady from Shanghai, might have to check it out. To be honest, I still enjoy watching The Man with the Golden Gun today, partly because I really love the concept but they just didn’t deliver on the actual film.

      Haven’t seen Pacific Rim yet, I’ll give it a rent soon.

      1. Oh dear…I should definitely have labeled my comment SPOILER. And yep, I enjoy pretty much all the Bond films, even the lousy ones 😉 If you check out LADY FROM SHANGHAI, let me know what you think 🙂

  3. I definitely agree that Pirates 4 and MI 3 had poor endings as they were let-downs. Then again, Pirates 4 was a fucking mess to begin with. I could care less about what was happening with everyone. Yeah, The World is Not Enough had a terrible ending which I think is one of the worst films of the James Bond series.

  4. Great post Ruth…I have some movies on my mind that need a different ending, in my opinion.
    From your list, i have only seen Clear and Present danger and Bourne identity…sad to say I don’t remember their ending anymore

      1. Red Eye…most definitely 😉
        Ninja Assassin…great gore effect but terrible ending. Those are the two I can think of right now…there are more but can’t think of it now

        1. Ahah yeah, I’d like for the ending of Red Eye that Cillian’s character becomes a nice guy and they’d live happily ever after, ahahahaha 😀

  5. Tom

    some good choices. Although I disagree about Django Unchained — i thought the way that film closed out was phenomenal, and there was actually quite a spectacularly bloody shoot-out on the plantation but i guess that wasn’t the VERY last shot of the film. i would agree about it ending kind of conventionally, though. 🙂 I would have to side with you about World War Z, though. I did not like the way that went out, but I guess people say it might set up a sequel well. we’ll have to see about that. . . .

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah I didn’t hate the way Django ended, just wish QT closes the movie out with more energy, it felt like he just ran out of ideas. As for WWZ, I wanted the movie to close out with big zombies attack, LOL.

  6. I actually enjoyed Mission Impossible 3. I thought the interrogation scene in particular was quite intense! As far as lackluster endings go, I’d pick Tom Cruise’s War Of The Worlds. I found the film as a whole as entertaining but the ending really did suck!

    1. Ted S.

      Oh yeah, I hated how War of the World ended, such a cop out ending, I hated the son character so I was not happy to see him alive at the end, lol.

  7. Kudos and well done, Ted!

    ‘Clear and Present Danger’ was whittled down beyond bare bones before the fist can of film was shot. Add to that, the miscasting of Willem Dafoe as John Clark. And writing out of anything in uniform being south of the border didn’t help much at all.

    ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ was an embarrassment even without the final shoot out.

    ‘MI:III’ did offer a superbly slimy, dumpy and creepy bad guy in Philip Seymour Hoffman. The kind of role he excels at since ‘Scent of A Woman’. But not a heck of a lot more beyond that.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Jack, yeah you and I are on the same page about Dafoe as John Clark, he’s just didn’t fit the part at all.

      Yeah, the showdown between Bond and Scaramanga was indeed an embarrassment, such a good concept for a Bond film but the filmmakers just couldn’t deliver.

      I’m still not sure why Hoffman’s villain role in M-I 3 was so well liked, he didn’t really do anything menacing, just walked around looking villainy and then he got ass whooped by Ethan and dies. Lame!

  8. Love this piece Ted! It’s so disappointing when a decent film has a terrible ending. Someone above mentioned the ending of War of the Worlds and I’d go with that. I’d also say The Forgotten with Julianne Moore, although I’d probably class that ending as utterly awful rather than lackluster 🙂

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Terry, never saw The Forgotten but heard the ending was pretty bad. And yes I hated the ending to War of the Worlds.

  9. Good stuff Ted. The main one that stick out to me was Pirates 4. I despised that movie. Sitting through it at the theater was the most laborious chore ever for me. Quite honestly, I was so bored that the ending simply matched the rest of the film perfectly. What a snooze fest.

    I actually really like the ending of World War Z. Sure it’s no big, elaborate action finale. But I like it’s unresolved ambiguity. [SPOILER] They have a glimmer of hope but there’s no real sense that they’ve one. And I couldn’t help but wonder if they were 100% sure that Brad Pitt’s character was going to be ok after injecting himself. Several questions and very open-ended. I kinda liked that.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Keith, yeah I hated Pirates 4 too, such a waste of time. I still don’t know how it made so much money.

      I like your reasoning for liking the ending of WWZ, I guess since the movie was set up as a high octane action/adventure, I expected to see a big action sequence for the finale.

  10. Really interesting list! I truly agree about MI: 3. The entire third film, though fun because J.J. Abrams directed it, I didn’t quite care for Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He made a pretty weak villain, so the ending was so-so.
    Except for Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl, I didn’t enjoy the ending to the sequels – especially At World’s End. It was a decent conclusion of the Swan relationship, but amazing – not so much.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Katy, yes I didn’t think Hoffman’s character wasn’t anything special in MI3, they built up this hype of him being this bad ass villain but he didn’t really do anything at all in the movie.

      I enjoyed the ridiculous spectacle of the last two Pirates films but the last one was just lame, just a waste of time.

  11. Very interesting to see you echo my thoughts on Django. Like I said back when I reviewed the film, I thought the entire final act Tarantino could have done without. The film went from a 5/5 to a 4.5/5 on that note alone. The final shootout should have been the last scene and Django should have died.

    I also agree on the others, especially on World War Z, and the incredibly “weak”, not to say horrible sequence that capped the end of The Man with the Golden Gun.
    The only inclusion I disagree with is Bourne Identity. I think it held up with the rest of the feel of the franchise, favoring scenes that are filmed up close and personal, without long winding fights, and more one-two knockout punches instead.
    I probably would have included The Game on a list like this. Big stars, big budget, a lot of success, and a pretty anti-climatic ending.

    Nice post!

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks, that’s how I felt about Django too. I wanted to see that big shoot out at the end instead of half way through the film.

      Yeah I didn’t mind The Bourne Identity’s ending just that that I wanted to see more of the action. Like I said the scene was well shot and the action was well staged, just wanted to see more it. 🙂

  12. Fun post, Ruth. I agree with all your choices. Especially Django Unchained. I felt after Tarantino should have blown himself up earlier and end at the terrific scene you described.

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