Unthinkable Movie Ending Explained

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Unthinkable, Samuel L. Jackson

For those just now stumbling into the 2010 film Unthinkable, starring Samuel L. Jackson, here is an explanation of what happened during the movie's ending.

The story follows the military and law enforcement after a local U.S. terrorist, Michael Sheen’s Steven Arthur Young, calls in a nuclear bomb threat warning of three different devices set to explode in three different cities.

Carrie-Anne Moss’ Agent Helen Brody, is one of the leading members of the FBI involved and the most morally sound of them all. The other central perspective of the story belongs to Jackson’s Henry Harold 'H' Humphries, a man with a mysterious and redacted past who specializes in various forms of torture.

What Happens at the End of Unthinkable?

Samuel L. Jackson in Unthinkable
Sony Pictures

Most of the foundation of Unthinkable rests on the establishment of Samuel L. Jackson’s H being a brutal interrogator who isn't afraid to go the distance, while Carrie-Anne Moss’ FBI agent is almost entirely against the torture of Steven Arthur Young.

She represents the human element of the story and is the physical embodiment of the concept of humanity as she tries desperately not to lose her own while saving lives.

As law enforcement is getting down to the wire, with hours to go before nuclear bombs go off, things get interesting.

Necar Zadegan’s Jehan Younger is brought into the interrogation room with her husband, Steven, who has been severely tortured and maimed, missing most, if not all, his fingertips.

Her presence alone is not enough to get him talking, however, which causes H to suggest the idea of cutting pieces off of Jehan to get the terrorist to spill the locations of the nuclear bombs.

Agent Brody and her other colleagues in the room are vocally against this, but as they try to drag H away, he slits Jehan’s throat, killing her.

While there’s shock in the air, it doesn't change the fact that time is running out for millions of people’s lives. Still desperate, the government and military go to Plan B: involving Steven’s children.

Brody and the other personnel only agree to use his kids on the condition they are not harmed, and that it is strictly a ruse, which H agrees to.

Michael Sheen in Unthinkable
Sony Pictures

When they get dragged into a separate room in front of Steven, the terrorist gets so distressed that Brody is finally able to get the three bomb locations.

Despite what seems to be a clear success, H forcefully goes on, ready to torture Steven’s kids to make it clear that he’s serious. Brody and the others are successful in stopping him before the kids are harmed, taking them to safety.

After everything is settled down, H drops a metaphorical bombshell: there is another nuke in play. The amount of material acquired by Steven was enough for more than the three everyone was originally aware of.

Steven had planned this out the entire time, knowing he might not have been able to hold out and keep the information. So, he orchestrated those three bombs as a failsafe—giving up the locations of those three deadly bombs would only look like a total victory.

In reality, there was always going to be that fourth bomb ready to go off if law enforcement was successful in getting the answers they sought. Sadly, the location of this final device is never discovered.

As one final little kerfuffle ensues, Sheen’s Steven gets a hold of a gun. Instead of using it against anyone in the room, he turns it back on himself and pulls the trigger—dying instantly, and the location of the fourth bomb with him.

The final shot of the movie sees Agent Brody walking out of the building with Steven’s kids, safe and sound. However, fans don't get any updates on the three original bombs or the mysterious fourth one.

For those thinking, 'Wait, is there not more?' there is—Netflix seems to have what feels like an incomplete cut of the films.

Unthinkable's Alternate Ending Explained

Samuel L. Jackson in Unthinkable
Sony Pictures

There is an extended version of the film, which is not the cut featured on Netflix, the streaming platform many are currently discovering Unthinkable on.

In that version of the movie, the story continues after Brody walks out with Steven’s kids. Audiences see the law enforcement successfully disarming the first three bombs they’ve been looking for the whole time.

However, as one bomb disarmer celebrates, the camera pans over to another hidden bomb—the mystery fourth one. The countdown timer reaches zero, but audiences don't see what happens next as the film cuts to black.

The obvious conclusion is that the ending is not a happy one and that the fourth nuke did go off, wiping out an unidentified city.

At the end of the day, the big philosophical question asked by the movie was: Were the lives (or mental sanity and health) of those two kids, and the loss of the humanity of those involved, worth sacrificing to save the lives of millions?

Agent Brody made it clear that she felt it essential not to lose their humanity and not to fall as far as torturing and seriously scarring children, all for the possibility of locating a theorized fourth bomb. Had that decision not rested on her shoulders, then perhaps an entire city could have been saved.

Is there even a correct answer to a conundrum like that?

As of writing, Unspeakable is available to stream on Netflix.

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- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.