Whiplash is a perfect example of a mediocre narrative redeemed by an outstanding finale. J.K. Simmons is great – he has always been great since making his first splash on Oz – but this film doesn’t ask him to stretch beyond his customary abrasive, foul-mouthed persona. Nor did the film ever get me invested in its protagonist, the unlikable and underdeveloped music student played by Miles Teller. Teller’s character is an asshole without any real redeeming qualities beyond ambition – he’s completely one-note and hard to engage with beyond a surface level.
However, the finale, in its twists and intensity, blows right past these problems to close out the film on such a triumphant note that the rest of Whiplash is elevated by association. For that alone, I’d recommend Whiplash.
2 1/2 out of 4 stars (Good).