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Top 10 Action Movies Ruined by Terrible Endings

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut

Script written by Mark Sammut

These movies didn't quite stick the landing. From The Dark Knight Rises, to Superman, to War of the Words, these otherwise great action movies were almost ruined by disappointing denouements. WatchMojo counts down the top action movies ruined by terrible endings.

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Transcript
Script written by Mark Sammut

Top 10 Worst Endings to Great Action Movies


Memorable… but for all the wrong reasons. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Action Movies Ruined by Terrible Endings.

For this list, we’re looking at films that failed to stick the landing. Most of these movies are actually pretty good, but their unsatisfying climax brings them down a notch. It should go without saying, but spoilers will be everywhere.

#10: “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006)

When it’s the final film in a trilogy, you really want a satisfying ending. X-Men: The Last Stand focused on a cure for mutants, which was the logical next step after Bryan Singer's X2. While the film delivered on the action front, the movie is bogged down by way too many underdeveloped characters and a few insulting narrative choices - making the whole thing one big BAD ending. From Cyclops to Professor X, our beloved X-Men are sorely mishandled, but it’s the climax that solidified the film as a disappointment. Because the Phoenix storyline is so poorly told, it’s emotional climax sadly feels forced.

#9: “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

Calm your horses – Christopher Nolan’s final chapter in the Dark Knight trilogy is a good action film. But it could have been great. For the first two hours, Batman meets his match in the powerful and intelligent Bane, who wants to complete Ra's Al Ghul's mission. The chaotic final act turns everything on its head, revealing that Miranda Tate is the real villain and Ra's Al Ghul's daughter. Bane is unceremoniously defeated by Catwoman - meaning Batman never really gets closure for his previous defeat - and Tate simply isn’t a very interesting antagonist.

#8: “Superman” (1978)

Really? This is the best ending they could come up with? Richard Donner's Superman is a classic and among the best superhero films of all time, but that’s all despite this nonsensical ending. For once - Lex Luthor's devious plans actually work, resulting in the death of Clark's main squeeze, Lois Lane. Furious and heartbroken, Superman takes to the skies and rockets around the world a few times. Since he was going against the Earth's rotation, this somehow reverses time, allowing Lois Lane to be saved. Sure, Superman is practically a god; but, come on, time-travel?

#7: “Law Abiding Citizen” (2009)

There is a fine line between dumb fun and just plain dumb. Angered by his wife and daughter’s killers getting a reduced sentence due to the prosecutor not wanting to stain his impressive record, Clyde sets out on a convoluted plan to destroy the justice system. After getting revenge, he lands in prison, but seems to be orchestrating several murders from his cell. The big mystery centers on how Clyde is doing this, with the logical conclusion being that he has an accomplice. Instead, we learn that Clyde dug a tunnel underneath the prison and was doing everything himself. Yikes. Not exactly a great or satisfying reveal.

#6: “The Book of Eli” (2010)

A twist can make or break a movie; case in point, M. Night Shyamalan's career. The Book of Eli was nearly a return to form for the Hughes Brothers but the climax severely derailed it. Denzel Washington's purpose in life is to protect the last Bible from the sinister Gary Oldman, who wants to use the word of God to manipulate people. Eli kicks tons of ass and looks awesome while doing it, before the twist reveals that he is blind and the bible is written in braille. This not only makes the book practically worthless, but Eli goes from a normal badass to an unbelievable superhero.

#5: “War of the Worlds” (2005)

Hey, if it’s good enough for H.G. Wells and Orson Welles (no relation), it is good enough for Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise. 2005's War of the Worlds plays out as a slightly more realistic version of Mars Attacks, until the climax, when it delivers a twist ending worthy of parody. Earth is invaded by an advanced species that totally dominates our defensive forces, prompting Cruise and the rest of humanity to do a lot of running away from lasers and tripods. Just when all hope seems gone, the aliens start to drop like flies due to microbes in the Earth's atmosphere. Victory never felt so undeserved.

#4: “Lucy” (2014)

Love or hate him, Luc Besson never does anything half-assed. Scarlett Johansson's Lucy is forced to act as a drug mule before accidentally ingesting enough chemicals to unlock her brain's full potential. Naturally, Lucy's first course of action is to deliver sweet vengeance upon the dealers who used her, but she eventually gains unlimited knowledge and escapes her physical body. That’s already a bit much, but the real breaking point comes when Lucy hands over all her knowledge to Morgan Freeman via a USB flash drive. Sure, it’s likely some sort of super advanced flash drive, but the storage medium still seems sorely inadequate for carrying all the knowledge in the world.

#3: “Savages” (2012)

Credit to Oliver Stone, he found a way to piss of fans of the book and moviegoers who never even read it. Based on Don Winslow's pulp novel, Savages follows three unlikable upstarts who run their own marijuana business. They get entangled with the Cartel, resulting in an abduction and a huge burst of violence to end the movie. The three leads are far from good people, so they should not receive a hero's ending. At first, Stone copies the book's ending - where almost everyone dies - before changing his mind and revealing that it was only a dream. In this version, everyone lives happily-ever-after. Except for the audience.

#2: “I Am Legend” (2007)

Richard Matheson's book I Am Legend inspired many horror flicks, including The Omega Man and The Last Man on Earth. Francis Lawrence's adaptation is pretty darn close to perfect, including a fantastic climax that captures the philosophical spirit of the original novel. Due to a man-made virus, Will Smith's Richard Neville believes he is the last human alive and sees the zombies as mere monsters. In order to find a cure, Richard kidnaps and experiments on a few of them, but realizes that maybe he is the real monster. Great, right? Unfortunately, they did not use that ending. Instead, we got an explosion.

#1: “The Matrix Revolutions” (2003)

A terrible ending to a trilogy and movie. After some thrilling action sequences, the climax sees Neo face off against Smith in a Dragon Ball Z style fight, and the former realizes that the only way to win is to lose. Neo allows Smith to clone him and the machines destroy them both. Their mutual destruction leads to a truce between the machines and humans, so, peace wins out in the end. The Matrix then resets, with the Oracle predicting the arrival of the 7th one, leaving us with a whole bunch of questions. The biggest one being… what was the point?

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