Unthinkable: Where was Samuel L. Jackson’s Thriller Filmed?

With director Gregor Jordan at the helm, ‘Unthinkable’ is a gripping thriller that delves into the moral complexities of counterterrorism and interrogation tactics. The film introduces us to Steven Arthur Younger, a former U.S. Army Special Forces operative turned extremist who plants three nuclear bombs across the United States. With millions of lives at stake, the government turns to the enigmatic interrogator, H (Samuel L. Jackson), to extract information from Younger and prevent the imminent disaster. As H employs extreme interrogation methods, including torture, to extract information from Younger, the ethical lines blur, forcing us to confront difficult questions about morality and justice.

Agent Helen Brody, an empathetic by-the-books officer, serves as the voice of opposition to H’s hardline methods. Tensions escalate as the clock ticks down, and Younger’s fanaticism and determination are faced with H’s brutal methods, which grow to target his family. Set largely in a high school turned black site, the 2010 film explores various moral and political discourses, ultimately raising questions about how far one can go to save uncountable lives. With its intense performances and harrowing storyline, the film leaves a lasting impact, raising questions regarding the actual locations behind the movie.

Unthinkable Filming Locations

‘Unthinkable’ was largely filmed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with shooting also being carried out in Los Angeles, California. Some glimpses of San Francisco, California, and New York City, New York, are caught during the movie as well. Principal photography was conducted between October 21, 2008, and December 9, 2008. Let us take a closer look at the exact filming sites chosen to capture the essence of the movie.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Situated east of Lake Michigan, the city of Grand Rapids became a primary filming location for Unthinkable, with most of its sequences being lensed within its diverse cityscape. In particular, the school that is chosen as the black site in the movie was actually the Iroquois Middle School on 1050 Iroquois Drive South East. Even the scenes around H’s home were shot on location in a Grand Rapids neighborhood.

When looking for the school building around which most of the film’s plot takes place, the production team searched for an older building that they could lease for an extended period of time. It just so happened that Grand Rapids Public Schools administrators were looking to sell the building housing Iroquois Middle School. The team found the old structure to be perfectly capable of providing a backdrop for a variety of scenes for the film. Therefore, a deal for a three-month lease on the building was reached.

Originally known as the Ottawa Hills High School, the institution was first opened in 1925, and after serving as the Iroquois Middle School for a few decades, its structure was demolished in 2009. Its site is currently home to Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School. In the film, we can still see the grand historical structure of the antiquated institution, with the characters walking down its locker-flanked hallways and carrying out torture in its classrooms.

Los Angeles, California

The film crew ventured to Los Angeles to capture a few scenes for ‘Unthinkable,’ offering a diverse array of settings and studios to capture the multifaceted nature of the storyline. From bustling urban streets to secluded suburban neighborhoods, the city provided a dynamic backdrop for the unfolding drama.

New York City, New York

‘Unthinkable’ features a few cinematic landscape shots of some of the iconic landmarks and locales of NYC. Partway through the film, when Younger refuses to divulge information, we are shown sites around the country to establish tension and the threat posed by his nuclear bombs. Some of these shots include Central Park and the Empire State Building in New York City.

San Francisco, California

A glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco can be caught in the aforementioned sequence of ‘Unthinkable.’ We can see its vast lanes packed with vehicles, building up the impending doom that the commuters may suffer if H and the special agents are unable to coerce the bombs’ locations out of Younger.

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