I actually enjoyed a good 70% of this film, but there were some serious missteps:
The version of the film I watched was titled 'The Philosophers', but the film obviously doesn't know which philosophical message it wants to leave you with. Granted, it is pretty rudimentary "philosophy" on display here, but despite all the talk about 'logic' and 'rationality', it seems to settle on a particularly absurdist and nihilistic worldview as being the best solution for post-apocalyptic humanity. Surrender your freedom of choice to a single charismatic individual, live artfully and musically and happily, and then kill yourselves using a nuclear weapon you somehow will out of the sky. LOLWUT? That seems more like a doomsday cult.
And while we're on the topic... If not surviving to reboot humanity was your endgame, Petra, why wouldn't you just allow all 20 students into the bunker, survive happily for six months, and then suffocate when the air runs out? The radical, thinking-outside-the-box solution provided by the smartest girl in the class actually turns out to be box-of-rocks dumb.
So, why did I rate this film a 7 out of 10, you ask?
Because this film has an awesome subtext. There's actually a lot going on in this movie that casual viewers might overlook.
Specifically, once you appreciate that the series of thought experiments are actually a private, allegorical conversation between Petra and Prof. Zimit concerning their recently broken-off relationship, there are many interesting levels to deconstruct. There is a nuanced battle going on here between the intellect and the heart, between Zimit's cold logic and the value Petra places on aesthetics.
For example, in the first two iterations, Zimit immediately kills the poet. Why? First, to demonstrate his power, but also because Petra's new boyfriend writes poetry, and Zimit wants to communicate to Petra that this creative pursuit has no real-world value.
Zimit manipulates the character lottery so that Petra's boyfriend will have to adopt the persona of (a) a farmer who is (b) gay. That is, somewhat useful yet unsophisticated and, to Petra, ultimately unavailable. He further rigs the lottery so that Petra's persona is a structural engineer (and, later, an electrical engineer as well) to convey the value that he himself places on her.
This is also why Zimit abruptly mercy-kills the first 11 bunker rejects and is purposefully late getting to the bunker door. By causing himself to be denied entrance, he can demonstrate to Petra his own "wild card" value (his essential knowledge of the exit code). By rejecting a super-intelligent and rational man like me, Zimit is telling Petra, you are doomed to be trapped, suffocate, and fail.
There is actually a lot of symbolic stuff being 'said' to Petra in how Zimit guides the first two iterations of the thought experiment. This is what makes him such a horrible teacher; the entire experiment is devised for the singular purpose of slamming Petra's boyfriend and trying to win Petra back. And this is putting aside the fact that he's been sleeping with one of his students!
Ultimately, Petra fights back against Zimit's sub-textual arguments, showing him that there’s more to life (and love) than an endless series of black-and-white choices. The third iteration of the experiment, guided solely by Petra herself, is actually her allegorical response to the points that Zimit raised in the first two. She 'tells' him, via her scenario, to go "find his own fate" with the dwindling power of his two remaining bullets. He loses his "wild card" value through the soldier learning the exit code.
Petra ensures that the florist is safe, then manages to score herself a slot in the bunker despite not seeking after it. And then she illustrates, through the decisions she makes inside the bunker, what she values about life, and what she believes about other people's inherent worth. Petra values aesthetics, the sharing of creative gifts, and community. Her building a harp for the autistic harpist is just one of the many symbolic ways she expresses her worldview to the cynical Zimit.
When the group finally exits the bunker, and the ragged, bat-eating Zimit re-emerges from his lonely, dark cave, he restates his intellectual worldview and tries to force his will upon Petra again. Surely now she must realize that she needs him more than ever. "Where you are, only the smartest survive," he gloats. But the other students stand with Petra in her defiance. They detonate the missile. The implication being, Petra would rather die holding the florist's hand than spend her life enslaved to Zimit's relentless bullshit logic.
"Being smart isn't everything," Petra tells Zimit, delivering her final blow. "Has it done for you just what you hoped?"
Now, this gargantuan subtext doesn't necessarily redeem all the cringey aspects of the film, or make it any more intelligent or well-acted, but it does make it somewhat more watchable. Maybe even worth watching twice.
The premisses of the movie sound good..but execution is terrible..acting is pretty low..borderline cardboard.. ending is very very predictable..and the last 3rd of the movie..is so out of proportion and so out of touch with everything else..
Teen movie..for teens with very little to think about...
It was okay\ pretty engaging 2\3rds in, however the last third isn't connected to the plot at all. Terrible ending.
As with most other people, the first 2/3rds of it was very interesting. And the third iteration I was excited for. But then... Well you saw. This whole story kind of seemed like that online story you read where a kid outsmarts his teacher and at the end it says "That boy's name? Albert Einstein.". The very end revelation kind of explained a piece earlier that wasn't questioned, but it still seemed to add nothing to the plot other than change your view of a character, and not in an interesting, plot developing way.
The whole idea is good, but it's so slow even before the 3rd time. It was a little bit boring.... and I'm sad, I was really hoping for something good after watching the trailer.