57 Seconds Ending Explained

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 2, 2023
57 Seconds Ending Explained

57 Seconds is a sci-fi B-movie starring Josh Hutcherson and Morgan Freeman that is about a very low-key version of time travel. Given how famously knotty movies involving that concept tend to be, it’s only right that we attempt to unpack the ending of 57 Seconds and explain, as best we can, what it all meant.

And 57 Seconds is worthy of explanation – not because it’s particularly complicated, you understand, but because in large part it doesn’t make much sense. So, let’s do that, though needless to say there will be major plot spoilers to follow.

57 Seconds Ending Explained

57 Seconds imagines – rather easily, one supposes – a near-future dominated by Big Tech and Big Pharma, with two companies, one on each aisle, dominating public discourse and financial markets.

One is Sci-Trinity, a wellness brand fronted by Anton Burrell, who primarily develops wearables called Tri-Bands promoting better physical, mental, and spiritual health.

The other is Renson Pharmaceuticals, who have been mired in recent controversy thanks to their peddling of Zonastin, a highly addictive painkiller that they may or may not have pushed to market despite knowing about its risks.

Our protagonist is Franklin Fox, a tech blogger who moonlights as an activist taking scathing aim at Big Pharma, and particularly Sig Thorenson, the CEO of Renson. Franklin is particularly invested in this matter since his twin sister died from an addiction to Zonastin after being prescribed it for pain.

After sneaking into Burrell’s latest product launch and saving him from a would-be assassin, Franklin finds a ring on the stage that he quickly discovers allows him to rewind time by exactly 57 seconds. He uses this to seduce his colleague for the day, Jala, then to win big in casinos, and eventually to infiltrate Thorenson’s inner circle in the hopes of exposing his wrongdoing.

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How does the ring work?

It is never precisely explained how this ring works, but what we do know is that it is powered by quantum crystals, which Burrell discovered in the 60s while working on laser technology.

Burrell, being a Black man, thought it best to keep this discovery a secret. However, he used it to guide his technological development, including the Tri-Bands. He wants to use the same technology that powers the ring to create a means by which accidents, and thus the pain stemming from them, can be completely avoided.

No pain means no medication, which means no people like Thorenson.

The ring is also connected to the circuity of Ingram, Burrell’s assistant who seems to be a robot. His face is covered in glowing glyphs, and through him, Burrell is able to monitor Franklin’s use of the ring as a case study for the technology.

Why did Franklin’s nose glow during the presentation?

A very minor unexplained detail is that, while watching Burrell give his presentation on the Tri-Band 5, Franklin’s nose lit up with the same kind of glyph that Ingram has all over his face.

This occurs before Franklin finds the ring and is never mentioned again. The implication here might be that Franklin himself is similar in nature to Ingram, though the likelier explanation is probably just that it’s a continuity error or something that the writers originally intended to explain but never got around to.

How does Franklin expose Thorenson?

Franklin uses the ring to get a job within Thorenson’s inner circle, ostensibly to concoct a positive PR campaign that’ll restore the company’s reputation after the Zonastin scandal. However, what he’s really doing is looking for evidence that Thorenson knew that Zonastin was highly addictive and pushed it to market anyway.

Thorenson thinks Franklin is a plant of Burrell’s, so continuously tries to put him in compromising positions to blackmail him if necessary. He is eventually successful when he drugs Franklin and has multiple women rape him, which he films.

After breaking up with Jala when she discovers that he has been using the ring throughout the entirety of their relationship, Franklin uses it to loot Thorenson’s safe, which contains heaps of kompromat that Thorenson keeps on his employees. Among this is video proof that Thorenson had his right-hand man, Calvert, murder an employee named Susan Miller and stage her death to look like a suicide to keep concerns about Zonastin quiet.

Franklin has his friend Andy play this video at a big basketball game, exposing Thoreson.

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Why does Franklin turn Burrell down at the end of 57 Seconds?

In response to being exposed, Thorenson kidnaps Franklin and Jala and attempts to take both of them away on his private plane. Jala is able to escape by using the ring, but Franklin is taken aboard.

As the plane is departing, the police – who saw Thorenson drag Franklin aboard, throwing a spanner in the works of his plan to force Franklin to denounce the video as a hoax – shoot one of the engines. After a scuffle, the plane crashes, killing Thorenson but leaving Franklin, Renee – thanks to Franklin – and Calvert alive.

Burrell and Ingram arrive on the scene to explain that Burrell knew Franklin had the ring all along and has been monitoring his choices to see how they were influenced by the tech. Burrell needs someone to help him develop the time travel technology, and he thinks Franklin would be a good fit.

However, Franklin rejects the offer and destroys the ring, claiming it’s just as addictive and dangerous as the drugs that killed his sister. Burrell thinks this is even more evidence that Franklin is just the right man to help him save the world, but Franklin counters that he has already done so by destroying the ring.

Franklin and Jala walk away hand in hand.

What did you think of the ending of 57 Seconds (2023)? Let us know in the comments.  

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