How It Ends

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
How It Ends Movie Poster Image
Violent, profanity-filled tale lacks logic and resolution.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Bonds can be forged under desperate conditions. When survival is at stake, humankind has almost no boundaries of cruelty and selfishness; only a rare few are righteous.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hero has integrity and conviction; his courageousness and resourcefulness emerge. Rigid, powerful parental figure learns to respect man whom he gave little credit. One leading female character is strong, determined, competent; the other is dependent upon men. Ethnic diversity.


Apocalyptic story with frequent violence: gunfire with point-blank killing, gun battles, fistfights, explosions, car chases, multiple fatal vehicle accidents, bloody injuries, on-camera deaths. Meteorological occurrences wreak havoc on Earth: fire consumes people and destroys buildings; deadly ash rains from sky, covering cities; clouds of dust destroy everything in path; ferocious thunderstorms with lightning occur.


Kissing. A man and woman engage in brief foreplay and begin to undress.


Continuous use of "f--k" and other profanities, such as "s--t," "slut," "f--got," "Jesus Christ," "a--hole."


Glenlivet, Cadillac.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink whiskey, beer, in several scenes. Cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that How It Ends is an action/adventure film in which a young man and his prospective father-in-law embark on a treacherous journey from Chicago to Seattle during what may be an apocalyptic event. Along the way, they face all manner of chaotic natural disasters as well as ruthless humans fighting to survive. Violence is frequent and savage: gunfights that include point-blank kills, explosions, fires, horrific car accidents, chases to the death, and brutal hand-to-hand combat. A leading character dies a slow, agonizing death. Profanity is constant, with countless uses of "f--k" and "s--t" punctuated by occasional swearing: "a--hole," "Jesus Christ," "f--got," "slut." A brief scene shows a couple kissing and starting to undress. Characters consume alcohol and beer, and there's some cigarette smoking. Explanations for the ongoing suspense and violence are hard to come by. More questions are raised than ever answered. Definitely not for kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGeorgiiiii69 March 20, 2020


Don’t both watching it, I’m self isolating due to the Coronavirus... with nothing to do... I wish I didn’t waste 2 hours watching this film. Literally nothing h... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 11-year-old Written byNicole D. September 25, 2018

No ending, weak plot. Skip it!

This started out ok but quickly went into a very predictable tale “boy makes his way back to girl and faces some dangerous and challenging characters and events... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byLilac0312 August 26, 2018

Potential but dissatisfied

This movie had real potential the story line was entertaining and well thought out but it did have its flaws. Many people are blaming it on the actor Theo James... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byPickels1234 July 26, 2018

12 and Up Mostly for language

This is a dumb movie that honestly was one of the most disappointing films I have seen. The F word is no joke the most used word in this movie. and ending is... Continue reading

What's the story?

Will Younger (Theo James) is on a mission in HOW IT ENDS. He's on a trip from Seattle to Chicago to ask Tom Sutherland (Forest Whitaker), his indomitable prospective father-in-law, for his blessing. Samantha "Sam" (Kat Graham), his partner, is pregnant, and they're planning to make their relationship permanent. Tom is a hardheaded ex-military officer with little respect for Will. In a shocking turn of events, while Will is on the phone with Sam, it appears that Seattle has either been attacked or experienced a horrific natural disaster. As Will and Sam disconnect, with Sam seemingly in fear for her life, power goes out in Chicago as well. All communication is gone; air travel is stopped; no explanations, no news. Chaos erupts. Desperate to reach Sam, Will and Tom set out together to make the journey from Chicago to Seattle. It's a harrowing journey during which the two men, now having to work together to survive, encounter violence from malevolent thugs, panicked victims, and an array of natural phenomena.

Is it any good?

Wonderful camera work, along with top-notch stunts and special effects, can't begin to make up for a story that simply doesn't track, that lacks logic, cohesion, and even a modicum of resolution. And sincere performances fail to mitigate the script. The action-packed journey seems to go on forever. Every cliché of dystopian villainy shows up to impede the two heroes. Mains roads are either too dangerous or closed, but that doesn't mean that the men won't conveniently show up just down the road from a friend or even a family member. And they're isolated the rest of the time -- speeding down lonely roads. Where is everybody else on the planet? Endings that leave some question for audiences to ponder and/or sort out can be inspiring, provocative, or fun. But there's no ending; How it Ends simply stops. If the folks who created this film hoped that the title would explain everything, it was wishful thinking. Not recommended.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in How It Ends. Was it shocking? Gruesome? What do you think the filmmakers were trying to say about how far a person will go to survive? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Sometimes movies end without full resolution. How did you feel about the ending of this movie? Was it satisfying? Why or why not? What conclusions, if any, did you draw?

  • Many movies with environmental calamities at the story's heart hope to inform or inspire audiences about the ultimate effects of human behavior on the planet. What, if anything, do you think the filmmakers intended to say about such issues? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

Themes & Topics

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