Netflix has put out some stunning feature dramas in the past few years but they're still finding their footing when it comes to lighter, crowd-pleasing fare. Intense Oscar-bait like Mudbound, they've nailed, but let's be real, that Cloverfield followup was kind of a mess. On July 13, the streaming service will try their hand at the latter again with How It Ends, a disaster flick about a geological apocalypse. At the heart of the story is Tom, an ex-military dude who just might have enough survival skills to pull through. So who plays Tom on How It Ends? Forest Whitaker is definitely anchoring this movie.
His iMDB credits list is a mile long, but you may have seen him recently in some very low-key films like Black Panther, Lakeith Stanfield's latest project Sorry To Bother You, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or Oscar-nominated Arrival. In 2007, he won the Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for his work in The Last King of Scotland. He also played the lead role of Cecil Gaines opposite Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels' The Butler. Basically, Whitaker has done it all, is a master of drama, and has a bunch of action movie experience to boot.
In How It Ends, he plays the gruff, intimidating father of Samantha, a pregnant woman who lives with her partner Will (played by Divergent's Theo James) in Seattle. Whitaker's character Tom blames Will for his daughter leaving their hometown of Chicago, even though it was Sam's idea to move. Now that she's pregnant, Will travels to Chicago by himself to ask for Tom's blessing to be with her. Needless to say, Will's city-slicking lawyer type is not Tom's cup of tea. The dinner goes badly, and while Will is recounting it to Sam, played by Kat Graham, their connection cuts out just as she ominously reveals that "something's wrong."
News reports show a "seismic event" off the Pacific Coast (so naturally, Sam is in grave, immediate danger and all alone), along with heatwaves in Europe and other mysterious, catastrophic geological events playing out all over the world. No one seems to know what's going on, and power soon goes out all across the country. With air travel grounded, Will is stuck in Chicago with Tom to try and survive the end of the world.
Tom immediately suspects the government, owing to the lack of information coming out about whatever's happening. The military roadblocks set up all over the place don't exactly seem to be helping citizens. Luckily, Tom's military background assists him in giving other personnel the slip, hopefully getting him closer to reuniting with his daughter.
Other obstacles include the general lawlessness that accompanies apocalypse scenarios, the world literally crumbling down around them as natural disaster after natural disaster strikes, and Will's total incompetence when it comes to shooting a gun, which, like it or not, is a necessary survival skill in this timeline. Ultimately, however, Will proves his worth — and his love for Sam — as the pair race across the country to try and save what may literally be the space needle poking out from a pile of dust.
The trailer's cast and action sequences look amazing, even if early reviews have opined that the story leaves something to be desired. But hey, it's a fun summer disaster movie, a genre which is not historically the apex of storytelling. We're tuning in for cool CGI of American landmarks collapsing, shirtless Theo James (hopefully), and an emotional, romantic reunion at the end. And Forest Whitaker will probably deliver some badass one-liners along the way.