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Movies That Would Be Perfect If They Ended Five Minutes Earlier

February 24, 2020 7.0k votes 1.8k voters 71.1k views12 items

List RulesVote up the films that would have been perfectly good if they just knew when to stop.

When you sit down to watch a new movie, you never know how it's going to end. Sometimes you'll be bored by the entire experience, and thankful for the end credits. Other times, however, you can be fully engaged, only to have the movie completely ruin itself in the last few minutes. If it had ended just one or two scenes earlier, you would have loved it.

It's an unfortunate fact that filmmakers are fully capable of destroying their masterpieces in the last few minutes. Whether it's dragging out the movie too long, adding unnecessary information, over-explaining, or reaching for a sudden twist, these misdeeds are guaranteed to have viewers wishing they could have been present in the editing room. After all, just five minutes can make all the difference.

  • Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are successful dealers living in an open relationship with Ophelia Sage (Blake Lively). Because of their success, the Mexican cartel tries to force them into a partnership that neither man is interested in. To persuade the men to join, the villains kidnap Ophelia and threaten to harm her if the men refuse the partnership. This leads to a confrontation in which all three are mortally wounded. Determined to be together to the end, Chon, Ben, and Ophelia OD and perish in each other's arms.

    Except they don't. That's right - this film pulls the classic "it was all a dream" trick, showing Ophelia waking from a nightmare while still in the possession of the cartel. Ben and Chon, alive after all, help the DEA catch the bad guys. Then, they all live happily ever after in a beach hut. 

    As a general rule, any film that has to pull the "it was all a dream" ploy at the last second should have just ended before the person woke up. The first ending is sad, but at least it allows the film to end on a powerful note.

    • Released: 2012
    • Directed by: Oliver Stone
    277
    78
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  • Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is an American student living in Taiwan who gets tricked by her boyfriend into working as a mule. In order to transport the controlled substances, a packet of CPH4 (a valuable synthetic substance) is sewn into her abdomen. While she's in captivity, however, one of the men attacks her and ruptures the bag, releasing a large amount of CPH4 into her system. Under the power of the substance, Lucy is able to use more of her brain function, while most humans (according to a debunked, but fun, myth that the film takes for its premise) can only use around 10%. With this increased function, she gains powers of telepathy, telekinesis, and mental time travel. 

    Lucy contacts a scientist, Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman), who may be able to save her from herself. She meets Norman and his colleague, promising to share everything she now knows, since her new purpose in life is the spread of knowledge.

    Near the end of the film, Norman injects Lucy with more CPH4, and she dissolves into a black substance that spreads over the technology in the room, becoming a sort of supercomputer. She can now travel all the way back to the beginning of the universe, where she witnesses the Big Bang. Her consciousness melds with the world around her and we're told that she is now everywhere, having finally harnessed the full power of her brain.

    This disintegration scene takes Lucy's fun, pulpy premise a step too far, into the realm of self-parody. The movie should have ended with Lucy's declaration that sharing knowledge is the most important thing in life.

    • Released: 2014
    • Directed by: Luc Besson
    608
    322
    Ruined by the final scene?

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  • As the title suggests, Lincoln is the story of Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis). Specifically, the film tracks Lincoln's efforts to put a final end to slavery in the waning weeks of the Civil War by shepherding the 13th Amendment to the Constitution through a fragmented, recalcitrant Congress. 

    As the film closes, Lincoln has succeeded in this endeavor, and the Confederacy has been all but vanquished in the field. As Lincoln chats with members of his cabinet, he realizes he must be heading out to take his wife to the theater (yes, that theater). He delivers a final line and walks out, as his signature top hat fades in the distance. That would have been the perfect moment to end the film. Every grade school student knows what happens next. But the movie keeps going. 

    The next time we see Lincoln, he's lying on a blood-smeared bed, after having been fired at by John Wilkes Booth. Soon after, the scene fades into his second inaugural address. A film that hinted at his untimely end without showing it would have been much more powerful. By leaving nothing to the imagination, the film drags on a little too long and ends with a focus on Lincoln's demise, rather than his life.

    • Released: 2012
    • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
    235
    121
    Ruined by the final scene?

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  • David (Haley Joel Osment) is a highly advanced robot designed with the capacity for love. To see if he's functioning properly, Monica (Frances O'Connor) and her husband Henry (Sam Robards) take him in. Their own son is severely ill, in cryostasis while his parents seek a cure. Although Monica at first rejects David, she eventually warms to him and decides to "imprint upon" him - an irreversible process that activates David's emotional abilities, causing him to act like a real child.

    Monica and Henry's son recovers, but he doesn't accept his new sibling, and contrives situations that make his parents fear that David is a danger to their family. Monica plans to take David back to the lab to be destroyed, but she can't bring herself to do it, and abandons him in the forest. David sets out on a journey to find the "Blue Fairy" from Pinocchio that will turn him into a real boy, believing Monica will then love him. 

    Near the end of the film, David seems to find the Blue Fairy he's been looking for - a statue in a flooded Coney Island. He's trapped in his vehicle when the Wonder Wheels falls on top of him, but he doesn't care. He keeps begging the statue to make him a real boy until he runs out of power. The movie should have ended there, with David's desperate hope lingering in the air. 

    Unfortunately, it continues. Two thousand years later, advanced robots uncover a now-frozen David and bring him into an entirely new world where humans are extinct. The robots are able to recreate Monica for David, and he spends a final day with his beloved mother, which ends with her telling David that she always loved him. Happier? Sure, but far too neat and tidy, and a classic example of a deus ex machina.

    • Released: 2001
    • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
    205
    221
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