Unthinkable (2010) Poster


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Don't miss the point of this film like so many appear to ....
jaffacake2k26 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't have much of a clue about what this film was about when i watched it - other than is starred the iconic Samuel L Jackson and Carrie Ann Moss - and it was a 'Hollywood' film.

Only this Isn't a 'Hollywood' film. Unlike the usual formulaic production line fare that Hollywood usually cranks out - THIS film stands apart. It doesn't follow the same formula which so many do to get bums on seats. There isn't even a romantic sub-plot. (Which i found VERY refreshing!) Simply put this film attempts to explore moral boundaries ... Our own just as much as those of our on-screen protagonists. Unlike many people that watch this film I didn't come away feeling id been exposed to some 'liberal' or 'NWO' propaganda. Those reviewers seem to be suffering from a 21st century dose of 'reds under the beds' ...

The setting of the film could be ANYWHERE - the fact that its in America with a Muslim 'villain' is merely a reflection of its intended audience and social environment. The point of the film is: Is torture justifiable? How do you balance the morality of torture against its real world 'benefits'... ? The premise is: A man has planted nuclear bombs in 3 American cities. He is in custody and the US security services need to extract the locations of the bombs within 72 hours. So they begin to torture the man.

So how far do you go? Can you trust the information revealed? Who is 'good' and who is 'evil'? I don't want to spoil the film so will say there are many more variables which are featured ...

Some people have complained about the 'gore'. Personally i didn't find it 'gorey'. Especially with the likes of the SAW films out there! There are some sequences which involve 'blood' etc but these are well executed, brief and far from gratuitous. Much of the torture off camera as its the moral implications which are there to make you feel uncomfortable - not the visual ones.

This isn't a traditionally 'enjoyable' or 'entertaining' film. However i was captivated from the opening scene and was intrigued throughout. Its well acted, well scripted and well considered.

Its a shame that many people will not take away what they could and should from this film - but that is a reflection of then - not a reflection of Unthinkable!

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An excellent "what-if" scenario that will make you think
prizm425 May 2010
Carrie-Anne Moss represents the average citizen watching this movie, having a facade of superior human rights beliefs (that we tend to have in western countries) that gradually get whittled away as the situation in the movie get more desperate.

How far are we really willing to go to save millions of people? When the entire country is at stake, how far is the US really willing to go with dealing with terrorists? We can claim our governments are moral and upholding human rights, but at the end of the day, the government can do whatever it wants. It doesn't need your approval, and it will do what it believes is required for self-preservation. This movie flaunts that idea.

Unthinkable has excellent mind-play and dialogue that really gets you thinking and challenges what we really believe about human rights.
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Edgy, fast-paced, scary thriller
tha_mongoose26 May 2010
How much do we value our freedom? When faced with exceptional circumstances, how far will we go to ascertain the truth, to secure safety? To ensure national security? "Unthinkable" is a problematic movie, in that it gives no clear answers. The premise may be slightly extreme, if we consider what H (Samuel L. Jackson) gets up to, but then again, with some rationalizing we easily reach the conclusion that we simply don't know just how far America has gone in the legal torture business.

We do not intend to point the finger at America in particular. This applies to any and everyone. Faced with extenuating circumstances, what would we do? Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen. "Unthinkable" is a very current, undebatably intense uneasy ride down a steep, winding and twisting tunnel.

In the end we are left with nothing. It is up to us to decide what is our moral charter.

Well worth your while. 8/10
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Wow...A Must See Film, 9/10 Hands Down
calltawheed26 June 2010
Wow... this is one of the best films I have ever seen hands-down, regardless the low ratings many other reviewers have given it thus far.

While the premise of the movie is a bit far-fetched, the film itself is superb and has an excellent cast, great acting and a good script. Overall, the film is very realistic and thought-provoking.

While I completely understand why many assert that this is 137 minutes of pro-torture propaganda (like the hit TV series "24"), I completely disagree. I feel that more than anything, it shines a spotlight on the human condition. It captivates the viewer and forces us to question how far we are willing to go to save lives, and whether or not we are willing to sacrifice our vary humanity to do so. At what point are we willing to do the "unthinkable" and thereby give up some of the things that truly make us human?

Warning, this film is extremely graphic and at times hard to bear and while it is not for the faint-hearted, I still encourage every mature adult to watch it. I do not believe the extreme violence has been added for shock value or entertainment, but rather to shake the hell out of the audience in order to make them reflect upon their humanity and what it means to be human.

Also, while I do believe that having yet another film depicting the bad guy/terrorist as a Muslim does have the potential of perpetuating certain negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims, I feel that the "bad guy" could have just as easily been from any another religious tradition or political ideology and I did not consider it to be offensive or deliberately anti-Muslim and I say this as a Muslim myself.

I was thoroughly engaged till the very end and was left absolutely speechless, staring at the screen. This was only the second time that has happened in my life and I am still absorbing and contemplating what I witnessed.

FINAL RATING: 9/10 hands down. A must watch film for every mature human being. But, I'd advise you to save the snacks until AFTER the credits roll.
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A comment from a Muslim.
VforVaseline3 June 2010
Although many viewers are thinking this film is offending Muslims, I personally do not agree with them.Michael Sheen was playing very well and he did a good job -as always- here. Samuel L. Jackson was very "deep" in this movie and his acting was excellent.The film grabs you and takes you to it's world. You are constantly thinking how the characters are going to behave and what choices they are going o make, at the same time you can't keep yourself from thinking "What would I do in that situation?' and so on. The ending was shocking but it could have been made slightly better(trying not to give any spoilers). The only cause that should keep someone from not watching this film would be mild gore and some torture scenes.
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Once is quite enough.
Deckard-1619 June 2010
The title of this movie could also serve as it's 1-word review. It is well worth watching if you are serious about films. But it very strong stuff that poses some serious questions about a subject that I don't like to think about; torture in the pursuit saving lives.

Samuel L. Jackson plays a shadowy U.S. Government operative who will go to any lengths to get info from a terrorist & his plot to blow up millions of people on our home soil. Michael Sheen (who memorably played David Frost in "Frost/Nixon") is that terrorist. Carrie-Anne Moss is an FBI agent caught in the middle of their deadly cat & mouse.

The movie's biggest strength is that we believe that Jackson's "H" is capable of doing ANYTHING to save innocent lives including the "unthinkable". Jackson, in words & action, really sells the role. This is some the best work he has ever done. Sheen shows why he is one of the most sought after actors today. Moss is strong as the movie's moral center -- a center that shows some very serious signs of disintegrating.

The tension is non-stop. The script is often heavy-handed, but for good reason. The direction is crisp & the editing sharp.

How this went straight to video echoes the question why last year's best picture Oscar winner got such poor distribution.

BE WARNED: the numerous torture scenes are very tough to take. They almost cross over into torture-porn (which I hate). I'm sure --I hope-- the filmmakers had plenty of debate about how far to take the violence. My usual disgust with such scenes was balanced by the way they drive home the debate of a very troubling issue.

I'm not ready to see this movie again anytime soon but I'm glad I saw it once.
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The price of keeping our way of life
abermans24 May 2010
Watched it last night and was really impressed. This is the sort of film that gets you thinking about your own moral grounds... how far would you have gone in order to save 1000s of lives. The story is simple, realistic and very current which makes it really efficient. I do believe this sort of threat by a single/small independent group of terrorists getting hold of a dirty bomb is the one we should all be loosing sleep over.

It does require a fairly strong stomach and will get some people uneasy with some of the torture scenes but this is exactly the purpose of the film.

The acting by the lead roles is superb - both Jackson and Moss are playing at the top of their game. While the storyline is not likely to be politically popular and therefore I will be surprised if we'll see many awards headed up this film's way. Still, hats off for memorable roles for both of them.

I don't think that everybody can watch this film, I doubt my wife could sit through all of it without some serious cringing. The subject of the film however is important enough to suggest that anyone who can tolerate strong violence on the screen should make time to watch the film. While enjoyable it probably not a good word to describe this film, it is surely memorable and impressive.
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Really enjoyed it
weemonk26 May 2010
What can I say? I'd heard nothing about this film until I had a look at some reviews on here, sounded like something which might be my cup of tea and had a decent cast......what a good film.

I have no idea why people have watched this and called it propaganda - it's a film! Granted, the subject matter is realistic and presents a scenario which could have already happened or could happen in the future. The film is very clever for this reason as it makes you ask yourself (or whoever you are viewing with) lots of questions. What would you deem as moral/acceptable? How far would you go to save the lives of thousands? Should we be governed by laws when dealing with people who have none?

Anyway....I'm not entering the debate but, for the fact this film gets you thinking and asking questions, it's a cleverly scripted film. It's also a tense and thrilling ride as you watch the events play out.

The cast all do a fine job with their parts and the direction is very good. Yes the film has some brutal scenes but it's all part and parcel to draw you in.

It's not often nowadays that you watch a film and have to think afterwards to fully appreciate the fact that you've just been entertained and watched something good....and that's what 'Unthinkable' manages to do.

Regardless of what film genre you're in to, this is definitely worth a look if you appreciate good cinema.
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Unthinkable ..... Not to See This Film
mikebattles5813 June 2010
I had not really heard much about this film, and It's likely that it's not going to be at the next "grammys" or "Oscar" awards. But It should be. This In my opinion is one of the most thought provoking films I have seen in years. Without giving away anything, for the hopefully millions who will buy this gem on DVD real soon, I will just state that Samuel L. Jackson is as great in this as ANY film I have ever seen him in. But I really feel it is the story and not just the actors portrayals that does' it. As many other reviewers here have already posted about the storyline, not much to be said about that. I would just like to say that Our government is to be APPLAUDED for not somehow killing this film out've the gate. Also that any film makers in this day and age can still let you walk away with more than a thimble full of thoughts and feelings is to be greatly admired. I would like to add to the entire cast's credit, that all the acting was extremely credible. My only quip with the entire film was the ending, which left me almost screaming at the screen. I have seen almost every horror film that exist's .... This is the real horror of our time , I would strongly urge only the most Stout of heart to actually view this. And only the intelligent. Kids need to be old enough to understand world events if they see it. Again this is one thought provoking film that DOES'NOT insult any ones views, Muslim or any other god fearing person. Or any other atheist like myself. It merely shows what extents the "human race" can reach when called upon in an extraordinary situation. 9/10 which could have easily been 10/10 had the ending not slapped me around a bit ...
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In a nut shell
feellucky200625 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I think a majority of people who saw this film were so blinded by the mass ideas and events behind it, that they totally missed the point. Why would a united states centered - black ops center interrogator - film, even bother having the so called terrorist state the following:

:Warning Spoiler's below stop reading if you do not want to be spoiled!: "53? A number your people kill every day" and "I choose to meet my oppressors to their face"

This film wasn't condoning torture, in fact it was asking us a question:

"When do we stop being human beings? While yes the person named "younger" was technically a murderer, in this film he was not the bad guy. He took lives, but as he clearly stated, >he< says he's just in what he did as though trying to prove a point. That as a nation today we are so scared of what "may" happen, we give up not only our own rights, but the rights of others, and allow things like "torture" to happen. Yes it is sad, and a horrible thing to take lives, but what younger reminds us...."who are the real monsters?" If you add up the total deaths caused by younger its unknown. 53 to start out with and a potential "10 million, based off of shaky evidence, that they could never prove he had "nuclear weapons" not even at the end. C4 yes. bombs yes, but still no proof of nuclear. I think younger more or less decided what he was doing was more revolutionary, than terror-like. As he repeatedly stated how much he loved his country, and he's an American citizen. While "H" played a bad role here, we can not forget that "H" said he himself was like a prisoner here, his acts were encouraged every step of the way, and when they weren't, all he had to do was wait, and then he was asked for again to do, what he was just told to stop.

In my honest opinion this movie is asking us to take a long, good, hard look at our values. And realize that under a moment of pressure they really don't mean a g** **** thing. That's the problem with not just America, but the entire world today. It's a wake up call. All younger wanted was peace. He asked that US stop funding puppet regimes (fake terrorist) and pull forces out of Muslim Nations. There was nothing wrong with what he asked for. It was what he did about it that was wrong. I am in no way supporting terrorism or its acts, BUT IN THIS MOVIE, the real terrorist is the guy who tries to shoot "H" at the end for not continuing the torture. In "H's" twisted mind, he was just doing his job. Younger was just trying to gain peace (ironically through the threat of destruction), and Brody finally breaking down decided to end it all when "H" said "if you can do it, than anyone can".

Brody is still human, "H" is neutral, and everyone else there who wanted to continue were the real monsters.

Don't agree? Fine, I'm not asking you to, remember I apparently still live in a free country. ;)

9 out of 10, because i don't like torture, or killing people. But the movie had a meaning.
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Makes you think....if you have never exercised that brain function before.
dontspamme-1130 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I can see why this direct rip-off from a season of '24' received so many negative reviews (although the rating average on IMDb still boggles me). This film engages in classic manipulation 101, by affirming and propagating some problematic cultural assumptions as facts, then blanketing over them with cinematic devices of distraction and sleight-of-hand.

The distractions are the A-list stars who attached their names to this film and the performances they give, without which the glaring holes and gaps in the plot and character motivations would be blatantly apparent. This is evidenced by a number of reviewers here who professed that they were on the "edge-of-their-seats" and captivated by this "thriller" despite the fact that they didn't understand why Younger did not seem to anticipate that his wife and children would be used as bargaining chips (when he supposedly anticipated almost everything else), or why Younger would turn himself in and risk the discovery of the bombs. These reviewers make the people who think that this film is somehow "anti-American" come across as slightly sophisticated, because I am fairly certain that actual military/contractor interrogators, who (should) understand that physical torture is a limited (and only one of many) interrogation technique, would find Jackson's character and his persistence on physical torture when it is clearly not working to be absurd and laughable. These reviewers are under the impression--manipulated by the film to think--that the film is about some moral reflection on whether torture can be justified if the situation is dire enough.

This is not what the film is about.

This film is about (melo)dramatizing certain assumptions and rendering them compelling and believable enough to be taken as fact. One such assumption is that only 'terrorists' face the possibility of torture in the name of US national security, which is a neat sleight-of-hand to obfuscate the fact that the majority of people who have actually been imprisoned and abused in the "War on Terror"--for example, in places like Abu-Graib, Guantanamo Bay, and other 'black sites'--are not guilty or even charged with any crimes related to 'terrorism.' But questions about how entire categories of people have become disposable in the name of security is blanketed over by the film which tells the audience that the only question we should be concerned about is whether we should prioritize morality or survival when confronted with the "ticking time-bomb" scenario. How did this 'scenario' come to be? It doesn't matter, the film tells us, because the antagonist is "Muslim"--as if that explains everything. What it explains is the other assumption the film affirms, that the writers and the producers hope no one will be conscious of, which is that all Muslims are 'suspect', and 'they' hate 'us'--an assumption that slides perfectly into a dominant cultural explanation for '9/11' and the subsequent 'War on Terror', as evidenced by some threads in the IMDb message forum where some posters have parroted all the tiresome rhetoric we've all heard countless times from government and military officials, talking sock puppets, and films.

There seems to be a 'commonsensical' notion floated by numerous reviews that something can be (cultural) 'propaganda' only if it can be easily recognized as such. If it's easily recognized as such, then it no longer fulfills that function. And the fact that so many people were entertained by this film without an inkling of its pedagogical function is a clear indication of the intensity of its manipulation.
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Think...If You Dare
TheAnimalMother19 January 2013
This film is great simply because it makes the viewer ask themselves important and tough questions.

If you are an open minded person, Unthinkable makes you think about things you definitely should ponder, even though you would probably rather not have to think about them.

This film essentially brings up the old adage that few things in this world are truly black and white, even though politicians, media, films, etc, usually like to pretend they are. We live in a complicated world of color where black and white makes grey. The truth or best options usually lie somewhere in the middle. Balance is truly the way of nature and those who are sane. These extremes of black and white thinking (Rights and wrongs) are as primitive as cave art. Yet still, this crap mentality is ingrained in humans across the world and still shoveled at us from countless sources, even though many of us know better.

The film as a whole goes a little over the top Hollywood (Rather than sticking to realism) in a couple of scenes. This is far, far from a perfect film, but it's tough questions alone make it well worth watching.

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An intriguing, gripping topical thriller
amesmonde22 October 2010
Time is ticking as three bombs are hidden in American cities, and a terrorist Steven Younger (Michael Sheen) is tortured for the information of their locations, however, is he telling the whole truth.

Genuine nail-biting performances from Sheen and Matrix's actress Carrie-Anne Moss as 'Brody'. Despite Sheens's less than convincing accent (which doesn't impair his great performance) you have to give him credit for this brave choice of acting job given the subject matter of terrorism. He is the modern alternative of Hannibal Lecter, reminiscent but more dangerous and excelling the normality of Gerard Butler's terrorist character Clyde Shelton in the recent Law Abiding Citizen (2009). Samuel L. Jackson is the perfect calmed, cold torturer Henry Herald 'H' Humphries. There is depth his character, ruthless yet a family man, emotionless, yet sensitive and the viewers moral standpoint can only decide if he is right or wrong.

Principles, religious beliefs, good and evil are questioned and touched upon in Peter Woodward's screen-play. It's also packed with Government, FBI, CIA and political conspiracies. With a great score that builds the tension, Unthinkable is intriguing and gripping as it unfolds at a pulse pounding pace with an ending to die for.

It's a topical thriller wonderfully directed by Gregor Jordan and certainly worth every second of your viewing time.
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Good performances, horrible writing, gratuitous violence, and not really about current torture debates.
lyta198230 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Good performances, horrible writing, utterly brutal and for no good reason. Unthinkable was utterly ridiculous in many ways. It was NOT in fact contributing to the torture debate; it was addressing how people might react in a worst case scenario. I think there are people who would feel differently about torturing a person who has admitted to setting nuclear bombs that would kill millions of people in three days time than torturing *suspected* terrorists, who *might* possess information on *possible* future terrorist actions. No matter how you stand on the matter, I think most people would agree these two very different situations warrant separate discussions. This movie is the political version of Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, and Zombie World (though Zombie World had far better writing).

Samuel L. Jackson rocks as usual, but his character is as monstrous as you'd expect. Though he makes a couple OK arguments in his defense. It's more difficult to judge his actions because we see him in an extreme worst case scenario, not any of the real life situations that drive the current torture debate. If it had dealt with some of these situations, the extreme violence may have been used more legitimately. As it is, the violence here is gratuitous and revolting.

To me, the film ultimately came across as very one sided (though I suspect this was not its intent). The biggest problem was the failure to make Yusef/Younger sympathetic in any respect. The actor Michael Sheen has an incredibly emotive face and good acting skills, but the character was just a wretched excuse for a human being and was given no back story to explain his actions. He was written too flat and while I think there are interesting things about him (which I will go into in more depth momentarily), I think these characteristics are accidents; the writers have him act in ways to progress the plot rather than writing out the character and having the plot evolve from him. This is a typical problem with poor writing.

The writers/director try to get the audience on Yusef's side by making his demands reasonable and stating that he loved his country. But in order for a person to be reasonable, his tactics must also be so. And setting up nuclear bombs to kill millions of people is simply not a reasonable. Yusef is also a narcissist. The action is all about him. He is a lone wolf, not working with any legitimate or terrorist organisation. It is *his* demands. Yusef is proud and believes he can fight a just war and right some major wrongs all on his own. Add stupid and naive to the list of character traits as well.

Finally, Yusef's lack of empathy made it hard to empathise with him. The children he murdered at the mall were "martyrs" but when it came to his own children he gave up his convictions to save them. While this may seem like an appropriate fatherly reaction, this made him a hypocrite. If he had allowed his own children to die, at least the audience could find some respect for him. But as it is, he caves. A true appropriate fatherly reaction would have allowed him to empathise with the fathers of his victims, and thus be horrified at his own actions. There is no visible sense of remorse at all in Yusef. There are two instances in the film, where other characters suggest that he may not have been the best father and husband. Again, his actions regarding his children at the end may be more about himself and things that are his than about any true humanity within him. It is a similar logic framing his reaction to the wrongs done to *his* country and *his* religion. Offences against his things warrant extreme measures, i.e. killing millions or abandoning his ideals.

It might have helped to sympathise with him if the audience new somethings about his conversion to Islam and his experiences in the Middle East. We are given no details about what particularly is bothering him so much as to legitimate (in his mind) the murder of millions. As it is he's just some a**hole who didn't like Middle East policy so he decided to blow innocent people up. In the end I wanted them to kill his wife and kids, just so maybe I could feel something for the character. But honestly, as disgusting and horrifying as the torture was, I kind of just kept thinking that the character himself was a hypocritical, narcissistic bastard with no empathy for other human beings and who was going to murder millions of people. Making the terrorist a Muslim was a desperate, lame attempt to make the movie politically relevant. He may as well have been a zombie terrorist (might have made the film more interesting).

Ultimately the movie was poorly written, unnecessarily violence and bloody, and rather irrelevant.
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Controversial concept misses its chance to excel.
Dory_Darko7 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Unthinkable raises a question which has been an issue for many people all over the world for a very long time, and especially since 9/11. This question is, is it ever justifiable to torture an individual to save the lives of many? And if the answer is yes, how far can you go?

This issue is indeed a very sensitive subject and I think it takes guts for any filmmaker to put it out there in the open like Gregor Jordan did. Add to that the clever fact that he doesn't actually make a choice, but rather lets the audience decide on whatever they want to think and feel, and you have a pretty gutsy and controversial concept.

In a nutshell, this film is about a man of American descent who has become a Muslim and has now, as an act of terrorism, planted 3 nuclear bombs in 3 major American cities which will go off in four days. Screenwriter Peter Woodward made some very tactical decisions considering the characters in the story. They are all somewhat stereotypical, but this is no bother because they're all there for a reason. Carrie-Anne Moss, as an FBI investigator, represents the conscience, the sensitivity and the struggle to make the right decision. Samuel L. Jackson is her polar opposite; the brutal, rational, stone cold "interrogator" who does what he does because he's the only one who can and willing to do it. The means he is willing to go to in order to get his subject to talk are almost as unwatchable as they are unthinkable. This is quite possibly the most gruesome film I have ever seen, but that mostly has to do with the fact that the things you see are in fact very real. This stuff does happen, and it's way harder to stomach than any slasher horror movie because it sucks you in emotionally. Intelligence agencies and secret services the world over DO use these techniques, whether we like to believe it or not.

All of this sounds like a great opportunity to address a major issue and stimulate people to really think about it, doesn't it? One would like to think so, alas there is one big problem: bad writing. As hard as they try, the filmmakers do not, at any point, manage to evoke sympathy on either side of the fence. Not with the terrorist, for the complete lack of background and motivation, but neither with the people who try to stop him from executing his horrible plans that could claim the lives of millions of people. Especially Carrie-Anne Moss' character, Brody, is quite a pain in the butt because even though her struggle is understandable, quite simply because she's a decent human being, she comes off as kind of naive because she – from a professional point of view – is unwilling to sacrifice the life of one to save millions. Her constant interference gradually becomes increasingly annoying, up to the point that you just want her to get out of the way. However, Jackson's character H. turns out to be such a volatile psycho that you almost start to feel sorry for the terrorist! There is one scene in particular which throws you off so badly that you really don't know what to think anymore. I'll only say that it involves the terrorist's wife, and as much as I would like to warn you, I don't want to give any spoilers, but you can take it as a warning anyway... It'll make your skin crawl.

The rest of the characters are about as lively and relevant as cardboard-cut-outs, I've already forgotten about most of them, but they don't really matter to the story anyway. However, all of this could have still turned into a decent film, if it wasn't for one major flaw: the horrible ending. It's so incredibly hollow and unsatisfactory that it leaves you wondering why the hell you just spent an hour and a half watching a man being tortured, if there was absolutely no point to it?! It could have been worthwhile if only the filmmakers had any resolution to offer, but there is none. Why did the terrorist do what he did? We don't know. Did the agents accomplish anything? Not really. So what's the point? There is no point. It's just 90 minutes of torture, bad decisions and failure. That's it.

Overall, it's not all bad. There is some really good dialogue and despite aforementioned flaws and inconsistencies in the script, there are a few really good scenes which do involve one into the minds of the people on screen. The actors do the best they can with what they're given, Samuel L. Jackson is as reliable as ever and Carrie-Anne Moss is convincing in her role, which makes me sad to think that since The Matrix and Memento, she hasn't really had any memorable roles, and that's too bad because she is a good actress. Michael Sheen as the terrorist is good too, though it's hard for him to make his character a 3-dimensional human being because the writers offered him no history or character development whatsoever, but he definitely makes his character's "in-the-moment emotions" work from scene to scene.

So, final conclusion. I wouldn't really dissuade anyone from watching this film, you now know what to expect and it does offer some interesting food for thought here and there, but you should really understand that this film is pretty challenging, mentally as much as physically. And don't watch this if you're under 18. Seriously.
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flapdoodle6427 September 2010
Early on, this film treats you to a visually explicit depiction of a US torturer cutting the fingers off a man; things gradually worsen as the story progresses. Yet this inhuman cruelty pales in comparison with the moral depravity and intellectual sadism of the writer and director.

This film has a realistic veneer but the plot is based upon the most unlikely and ludicrous, not to mention insidious, of conceits. Specifically, there has never been one single verified instance in the whole history of mankind, nor in the 12 year history of the War on Terror, when the fabled 'Ticking Bomb Scenario' has ever existed.

In case you have never had your brain abused by the sound of US lawmakers justifying torture, the Ticking Bomb Scenario is their favorite. This is a fictional scenario wherein US authorities have a verified terrorist in custody and simultaneously happen to know that unless they can squeeze info from said terrorist in a short time span, hundreds, thousands, or millions of people will be killed by that terrorist's plot.

There are multiple problems with the Ticking Bomb Scenario, such as the unlikelihood of authorities simultaneously having a genuine terrorist in custody that they genuinely and verifiably know has the information they want, concurrent with verifiable knowledge that a mass terror act is about to occur. On top of that, you have to be able to verify the info the terrorist tells you, otherwise he could lie when they torture him. And if they can verify that what he confesses is the truth, then why did they need to torture him anyway? The relevancy here is that the writers had to construct a reality in which the Ticking Bomb Scenario is possible. This results in a plot that is ludicrous.

Not to mention, Carrie Ann Moss plays an FBI interrogator with the interviewing skill of Barney Fife. So obviously, non-torture interrogation will not work in this world.

Worse, the plot serves so as to justify Samuel L. Jackson performing the most odious and vile tortures, with hapless Carrie Ann Moss forced to watch and enable such depravity.

This film is full of damned lies and disinformation that go unchallenged, and these damned lies are too numerous to list in this review. One of the worst lies, however, is when Samuel L. Jackson says that torture has been used effectively throughout history to obtain information.

In fact, torture was invented as method of intimidation, and was not used with the intent of gathering intelligence until the last 200 or so years or so. Unless you count false confessions: if you want someone to confess to a crime he didn't commit, yes, torture works. Moreover, there has not been a single verified instance where any information obtained by torture has saved one single human life.

The Nazis, for example, tortured prisoners extensively in WWII for intelligence, yet were completely surprised by D-Day, even to the extent that General Rommel was far from Normandy, celebrating his wife's birthday when the Allies landed. If torture yielded intel, then nobody should have ever been able to surprise the Nazis. Yet the Allies, did, again and again and again.

The Catholic Church used torture extensively during the inquisition, but what that yielded was false confessions and fables of witches and demons. Nothing in the way of 'actionable intelligence.' The Romans were masters at the art of torture, but they didn't use it for intel. No, they used on rebels such as Sparticus and his slave army, and they left their tortured bodies along the road to discourage others from revolting.

So yes, torture has existed for ever, but it has never saved any lives.

Carrie Ann Moss and Samuel L. Jackson are forced to make heavy-handed and absurd speeches justifying and condemning torture. The filmmakers appear to desire one of two results: 1) Conservative viewers, who already favor torture, will come away from this film secure in their resolve that torture is necessary to protect America from Muslims. (And yes, this is film is sufficiently anti-Muslim for Glen Beck to show it at his next rally.) 2) Liberals viewers will be less secure in their belief that torture is wrong.

As we have seen since 2003, once we began to debate the possibility that torture might be an acceptable tactic, we were lost. Pragmatically, as well as morally.

In an America that is steadily becoming more violent, more murderous, more sadistic, more paranoid, and more bigoted, there is no need for such a movie as this. There are no lessons in this movie, only incitements to and justifications of sadism. This is the most vile piece of cinema I have ever seen.
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Pure Torture!
hahashahid17 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This was just a bad film. The moral lesson that seems to have so many people awestruck is indeed an issue that requires deep reflection, but the makers of this film didn't seem to get that.

First of all, the threat, three homemade nukes? Are you kidding me?! But thats not the point. It was bad, unconvincing acting all over. The characters were barely believable especially that sissy General in charge of the whole torture operation. Agent Crody was the worst interrogator I have ever seen in a movie. Will Farrel was a better interrogator in The Other Guys! And "H"...well...see the movie and tell me how someone like Samuel Jackson could agree to do such a one dimensional and shallow role! His wife's story of rape and murder was one of the worst pieces of acting in the entire film...and that in a film filled with bad acting. And that terrorist. He was drilled in the mouth, his fingernails pulled, his fingers chopped off! He never lost consciousness, not even close. In fact, he maintained his presence of mind to make wise cracks all along! Next time you want a terrorist to divulge information, force him to watch this film. Pure torture! The Chinese kind!
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Truly Unthinkable...!
tempid-227 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is what you think really happens when there is a serious national security issue...? Do you really think, the whole country would be dependent on someone as arrogant and an idiot as "H", who thinks he has all the power in the world and beats military guys and acts like a lunatic. (H's role is played by none other than, the mood killer - Samuel L. Jackson. his acting is really disgusting in this film)

And totop it off, It is depicted that "H" is more knowledgeable and has better interrogation techniques than CIA, FBI and military combined and after hours of torture the terrorist is still conscious and cocky.

The most funny thing was, "H" demands that his wife should be allowed to bring him food to the interrogation facility, since he is very particular about his food. .... wow... just wow...!!!

This is the first time I heard that (ex)military officer could or is allowed to be picky about what he eats... I wonder what he used to eat during his military training? May be he demanded his superior that his wife should bring his food... LOL...

And FBI agent who doesn't want to harm terrorists children in any way or use them to get the terrorist talking and doesn't care if the Nuclear bomb goes off...? Which could kill thousands.... What the hell is it? A joke...? I really would love to hear CIA, FBI and military officials opinion about this film and Jakson's acting.

Who the hell thinks this kind of crap and makes it into a movie. And why would anyone rate it so high... Don't watch it... save your bandwidth, money and time.

And finally... Peter Woodward(writer) - write some sensible stuff.
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An apology of torture
nicolassarkozy13 June 2010
This movie is simply an analogy of torture.

It treats a very important subject without any deepness. It is meant to justify acts of torture in difficult situations. It is designed to encourage fear of Islam and possibly violent reactions against Muslims. It is naive from beginning to end.

This movie should not be watched by people without a deep understanding of the reasons why torture should not be accepted, as it clearly is oriented to make the viewer accept the idea that torture is a potential solution.

I would greatly advise to avoid showing that to most people, in particular to people with no knowledge and comprehension of the implications of torture.
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A Serious Study of How Far Will We Go...
frank_youell4 July 2010
Unthinkable is a serious study of how far we will go, as a nation, in stopping terrorism, particularly nuclear terrorism. The threat is real. Sooner or later our enemies will attempt to destroy one or more cities with nuclear devices. Where these bombs will come from and who will build or steal them isn't clear. However, the desire of America's enemies to do so is very real. Type 'Nuclear Terrorism' into Google and you will find a wealth of material on the subject.

Indeed, Islamic terrorists have already engaged in nuclear terrorism. See "Nova Dirty Bomb" for a history of dirty bomb incidents (some of which were actually industrial accidents). Note that the relatively complete list is missing one industrial accident in Mexico that resulted in uncontrolled nuclear material entering the U.S. (see "Contaminated Rebar from Juarez").

However, the focus of the movie isn't on the details of how terrorists might steal nuclear material or fabricate a nuclear device. Indeed the technical details in the movie aren't realistic. Building a workable bomb is far beyond the capabilities of one man, no matter how well trained.

The movie is about how many moral and ethical lines we will cross to stop such a disaster. The principal character, played by Samuel L. Jackson, appears to be willing to stop at nothing. Other characters have lines at the outset, but they find their own lines blurring as the crisis escalates. In the end it isn't clear if anyone has any lines that they won't cross to stop the "Unthinkable".

Note that the Wikipedia page (spoiler alert) discusses an alternative ending that was part of the movie that I saw. Apparently, the U.S. DVD and Blu-ray version does not include the highly relevant last few seconds.

An interesting question is why this movie didn't reach theaters. The cast is highly regarded and the movie is better made than much of what is actually showing. An obvious point is that some people might not find a movie about Islamic nuclear terrorism in keeping with their agenda.
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Astounding rubbish
jegpad25 May 2010
Astounding rubbish. And even more astonishing that people can suspend common sense and be convinced this nonsense bears any resemblance to the reality of counter-terrorism.

Suckered into watching this film due to the previous reviews and the strong male cast, the only jaw dropping moments for me were at the ludicrous plot and gratuitous violence.

Shame on those who were fooled by such dreadful blatant propaganda. Just shows how movie-goers looking for adrenalin thrills will take any old crap these days. It worries me that there are people out there so easily hoodwinked into believing such preposterous garbage could have a serious moral message.

It's not the terrorists we need to worry about, it's the people who gave this film a positive review!
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Terrorist hides three nuclear bombs, if his demands are not met they will explode in metro areas. The movie suggests torture being the only way to save the day,is it?
A_So30 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
One can see were the stupid logic comes from in the movie, i.e information must be attracted by all means from the subject in order to save the day. There are questions to what the movie doesn't even consider answering which is "the easiest way to solve the current foreign crisis related to terrorism" my answers are as follow: "stop killing them and they will stop trying to kill you" and ironically the demands set by the subject in the movie, were he said, USA should commit to a fairer foreign policy to the Muslim world and get out of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to me hits the nail on the head. Any reasonable man could see the logic of a terrorist even though his method of protest is also morally wrong and totally unacceptable, but this movie forgets to put a balance into this view and suggests how we should ignore the root of the problem but accept that we (USA) will at all costs defend our stubborn views whether right or wrong but not our moral etiquette's, even if need to torture including harm or possibly molest kids, and yes you read the part of the sentence before the comma correctly. Please don't be fooled into watching this brainwashing b s.
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sick movie that i couldn't stop myself watching
azmus23 May 2010
Evil comes with an evil.

This movie is one of the most suspense thrillers that i haven't seen in a while. Psychological tense is so immerse that at times it is hard to watch. Samuel as always superb in portraying his character, Carrie-Anne Moss also did good job, but most impressive character is "Younger" played by Michael Sheen. Psychological picture in his character is so real that you can feel the pain, the anger, and whole bunch of emotions that comes with perfect acting. But there is a problem with rest of the cast, it felt like director got his 3 lead actors, and didn't care rest of them, especially seeing superman as FBI agent was kinda odd.

The idea of the movie is so controversial, that it will definitely cause to question what is right and what is wrong. In our troubled time, where we use force against the evil, just to make evil stronger, more adaptive and more revengeful, the time for this movie maybe wrong. I hope it will be accepted as a fiction that it is!
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Weak writing saved by a good presentation
room10223 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure how to rate this. I knew nothing about the movie before seeing it. The concept is an old one: Is it moral to kill/torture one man in order to save the lives of thousands? On the one hand they did a good job in presentation: Good acting (by Jackson and Sheen), good suspense, good direction and score, etc.

On the other hand, I have a problem with the writing. I wanted to torture the writer myself when he kept using the "Jesus, this is..." phrase. But I got even more annoyed by the way he simplified the thinking of Agent Helen Brody: she changes her mind every 10 minutes and it's just stupid. One minute she thinks torture is wrong, but 5 minutes later she says that he should do "anything possible", only to change her mind back 5 minutes later, and so on. Does she really need to see the 53 people killed in order to grasp the concept of a bomb and change her mind? And how come she cares about 53 people but later doesn't care about millions getting killed? In order to present the moral dilemma, they should have used a stronger character - one that doesn't change her mind all the time and that gives better dialogs than "you can't do that" and "it's not alright". In other words, the writer should have invested more effort in analyzing the moral dilemma instead of giving us one-dimensional characters.

So the writing is stupid, but as a whole the movie works.

5.5/10 Worth watching
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Skip this unthinkably bad movie
barkdoll19 March 2011
Yes, this is Unthinkable - unthinkably bad! I'm so tired of movies that have no redeeming qualities and no meaningful endings. I just wasted two hours of my life watching some guy get tortured. Was it entertaining? No. Was it satisfying? No. Was it profoundly disturbing? Yes. Sometimes disturbing is okay, when there is some resolution or when the ending is satisfying. But when there is no ending, and nothing of value is imparted, and you've sat through a horror show, then disturbing is insufficient. The very thought of enjoying this torture film is, in itself, rather disturbing, and the fact that this movie got good reviews is also disturbing. The weirdest part about this film is that within it lay a bizarre, nonsensical choice that made it impossible to suspend one's disbelief. The terrorist issues his demand and the CIA and FBI refuse to even share his demand with the president. This is farcical, and left nothing more than continued torture scenes until the (non)denouement. Skip this movie.
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