Unthinkable Ending, Explained: Is There a Fourth Bomb?

‘Unthinkable’ is a 2010 drama thriller film that features a thought-provoking tale about counter-terrorism tactics and the lengths one is willing to go to in matters of national security. The story follows a special black ops team made up of the FBI, CIA, and the military, who find themselves in a time-pressure situation after Yusuf Atta Mohammed, formerly Steven Arthur Younger, threatens the country with several critical nuclear bomb threats. Consequently, Henry Harold “H” Humphries, a torture specialist, arrives with orders to retrieve information from Yusuf at whatever cost necessary. However, the lawful FBI Agent, Helen Brody, might just not be able to stomach the cost of H’s horrifying, inhumane actions.

The film continues to ratch up the pressure as the plot progresses, compelling the viewers to become witness to the unnerving and disturbing dynamic between H and his subject, Yusuf. Therefore, as the eleventh hour nears, Brody’s morality is put to the test, leading to a suspenseful ending. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Unthinkable Plot Synopsis

Yusuf Atta Mohammed, an American Muslim, released a series of videotapes showcasing nuclear bombs that he claims to have set up in three different American Cities. Although he reveals that the bombs will go off at a set date unless his demands are met, he disappears before clarifying his demands, sending departments of national security into a frenzy. Consequently, FBI Agent Brody and her team investigate every individual they keep tabs on.

Eventually, an accidental CIA file transfer leads them to the elusive Henry Harold “H” Humphries, who turns out to be more dangerous than thought. As higher-ups get involved, Brody discovers H is a “specialist consultant” for the CIA. Afterward, Brody’s team and H both arrive at a secretive location, serving as a counterterrorism command center against Yusuf. Apparently, General Paulson and his men have already caught Yusuf and have been torturing them for information since.

While Brody remains horrified by the unconstitutional revelation, she soon realizes H isn’t any better once she learns about his specialization in inhumane torture. However, despite her horror at the military’s actions, H insists on working beside her, valuing her integrity, which will keep him in check. Thus begins Yusuf’s grave torture under H’s hand, while a distraught Brody attempts to make him talk in moments of respite with promises to end his painful predicament.

Yusuf’s suffering remains endless— on physical and psychological levels. Yet, the military higher-ups believe it’s a fair price to pay for the potential magnitude of destruction his promised threat contains. Eventually, Yusuf agreed to make his demands, calling for the U.S. President to publicly announce the end of financial and military support to puppet regimes and dictatorships in Islamic nations. Likewise, he also wanted the President to retrieve U.S. Forces from these foreign nations.

While H and Brody float the idea of going through with the announcements at least, their superiors maintain that they won’t allow a terrorist to bend the President and his plans to his will. Consequently, they insist the only solution for the problem remains in Yusuf’s continued brutal treatment. Brody begins to realize that Yusuf wants to be caught and questions him herself, leading to statements about his ex-wife and kids. Therefore, when asked, Yusuf falsely confesses that he has been lying about the bombs this whole time to expose the U.S. military for their barbaric ways.

Furthermore, Yusuf also shares the filming locations of his videos. However, the same turns out to be a trap, setting Brody up for the perfect spot in town to witness a bomb blast at a mall. The event fuels Brody’s simmering anger, leading her to draw Yusuf’s blood, demanding answers from the man. However, H equips a different strategy once they locate Yusuf’s family, who tried to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Already walking a razor-thin line, with the idea that the ends justify the means, H decides to kick it up a notch and brings Yusuf’s ex-wife, Jehan, into the interrogation room with him. Brody remains cautious of the situation but operates under the belief that H simply means to use Jehan’s presence as a tool. Therefore, she instantly attempts to extract Jehan once H tells Yusuf he plans to mutilate his former wife to make him talk. However, as Brody and the others try to stop Yusuf by removing Jehan from the room, H lunges for the woman, slitting her throat in front of Yusuf.

Unthinkable Ending: Why Did H Kill Jehan? Does He Torture Yusuf’s kids?

Throughout the film, the military remains adamant in their mission to extract information from Yusuf. For the same reason, they include H in their counter-terrorism team in the first place. H has been working as a consultant with the CIA for a long time, doing their dirty work by raining unimaginable torture upon their targets as necessary. While he believes in integrity and morals, he also has a high tolerance for violence and can justify his actions to a fairly large extent.

Still, H’s split-second decision to slit Jehan’s throat while his own team members stand against it speaks to a different level of devotion to his perceived duty. H is directly putting the lives of hundreds of innocent citizens above any morals that may stop him from killing one innocent woman, if only to scar Yusuf mentally. Despite Yusuf’s earlier mall bombing stunt, there’s only a slight chance that his nuclear threats are real.

Nonetheless, H is prepared to condemn him in every which way for that chance. As such, he doesn’t plan on stopping with his wife’s cold-blooded murder. With hours on the clock to the potential actualization of Yusuf’s immense threat, H reveals he plans to use the terrorist’s children, young Ali and Samura, against the man. The idea is immediately met with resistance, especially from Brody, who refuses to be a part of such an inhumane tactic.

Still, H assures everyone he won’t hurt the kids and only lets Yusuf believe the same. H has been torturing Yusuf for days now and recently killed his wife. Thus, Yusuf is bound to believe H will resort to such low tactics while bestowing his trust upon Brody, who has been against his torturous treatment. As a result, H is allowed to take Ali and Samura into the torture chamber while Yusuf watches from outside through a glass window.

However, Brody and the others soon realize H wasn’t playing pretend and actually plans to go through with the torture when he refuses to let the kids leave after Yusuf gives up the locations. Even Alvarez, the man consistently helping H tie down his targets, remains shaken at the turn of events and storms the torture chamber to retrieve the kids to safety. Yet, once H reveals his true motive behind wanting to torture the kids, his superiors take a pause.

H believes Yusuf is hiding information about a fourth bomb due to the details of the stolen Russian nuclear material. Furthermore, by harboring a fourth secret bomb, Yusuf could allow himself room to reveal the bomb’s locations while still keeping an ace up his sleeve. Unsurprisingly, the same superiors who claimed outcry at H’s actions before demanded the man carry out his plans to torture the kids to prevent the infinitesimal possibility of a secret bomb.

As a result, as things come to a head, H decides to defer to the woman he has been using as his moral compass since the beginning: Agent Helen Brody. The woman has shown integrity throughout the film, from her initial disgust at the prospect to her eventual reluctant understanding of it. As such, H believes Brody’s input will help him see if the ends justify his means. Ultimately, as Brody distraughtly remarks she would rather let hundreds die than sacrifice her humanity by torturing young kids in the name of self-defense, H agrees with her conclusion.

Does Yusuf Die?

Since his introduction, Yusuf remains in various stages of distress, undergoing worse and worse torture as time progresses. Still, he’s prepared to lie down his life for his cause. The man used to be a Delta Force operator who grew up in Islamabad in his teenage years due to his father’s military job. Therefore, it wasn’t long before he changed religions and unfortunately fell down the extremism side. Consequently, after his departure from the U.S. military, Arthus— now Yusuf— planned to carry out what he considered a holy duty by attempting to evacuate America’s influence from Islamic regions.

Yusuf always knew he wanted to take a violent, terrorizing approach to achieve his end goal. For the same reason, he purposefully allowed himself to be caught so that he could prove to the Americans that their morals are easily bent, leaving them no better than common barbarians. However, while he’s willing to die for his cause, he’s not keen on letting his kids pay for his actions. As such, he tried to get Jehan and their kids to leave the country to no avail.

Therefore, Yusuf reveals the bombs’ locations once his kids come in contact with H, begging the military to spare their lives. Similarly, he also takes action when H and Brody’s superiors try to force H to torture Yusuf’s kids even after the specialist concludes he won’t. Thus, in the end, Yusuf manages to yank the superior’s gun out of his hold and commits suicide, leaving with a plea to Brody to look after his children.

Yusuf knew his children wouldn’t be safe as long as he was alive. The military superiors won’t stop looking for information. As such, his life holds immense but deadly value in the next few hours. Consequently, having seen his mission as far through as he could, Yusuf kills himself.

Did Yusuf Lie About a Fourth Bomb?

After Yusuf’s death, the only suspense that remains lies in his terrorist nuclear attacks. The military sends teams to the addresses provided by Yusuf to retrieve the bombs. Thankfully, the teams are able to locate the three bombs mentioned in Yusuf’s initial video, allowing them to neutralize their threat. However, what of the potentially deadly fourth bomb?

H employed every trick in the book— and ones beyond to try and extract the truth from Yusuf. Thus, it took him to the end of his humanity to get any information from the man. Yusuf was steadfast in his misguided beliefs and patently refused to give up. For the same reason, after Jehan’s murder, only drawn-out torture of actual kids offered a chance to retrieve the truth about the fourth bomb from Yusuf.

Even so, the possibility remained that H may physically and mentally scar the kids, only for there not to be a fourth bomb to begin with. If the sole idea of equipping such a strategy is monstrous, the conclusion that it may be in utter vain furthers its atrocity. As a result, Brody and H decide not to push Yusuf for a fourth bomb, and the man decides to kill himself before they change their minds.

While in some versions of the film, the story simply ends here, an extended cut exists that confirms the existence of the fourth bomb that counts down to zero as the film ends. Ultimately, the fourth bomb’s discovery remains a testament to Yusuf’s devoted monstrosity alongside H and Brody’s chosen humanity. As such, the story ends, leaving people to ponder if H and Brody avoided the bigger evil by refusing to break their humanity to save the population and if a different end could have ever justified the means.

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