Carter’s Ending Explained

Korean action-thriller Carter wraps up nicely at the end — right down to the final shot, that is.


By Aurora Amidon Published August 11, 2022

The ending explained is a recurring column in which we explore the endings, secrets, and themes of interesting movies and shows, new and old. This time we consider the ending of the new Netflix action thriller Carter. Yes, prepare for spoilers.

Jung Byung-gilKorean action thriller Carter is the kind of film that leaves its viewer no choice but to take everything with a colossal grain of salt. It begins with a young man, supposedly named Carter Lee (Lee Sung Jae), waking up in a room with no memory of who he is or how he got there. The only information he has is relayed to him by a mysterious voice in his head – a voice he must obey or a deadly explosive will detonate in his mouth.

So Carter has no choice but to follow the voice’s instructions, which instruct him to retrieve a young girl named Ha-na (Kim Bo Min). He learns that Ha-na is being hunted by the North and South Korean governments because she has the necessary antibodies to fight off the deadly DMZ virus, which is spreading rapidly in the United States and North Korea.

After a plot of shootouts and epic stunts, Carter manages to get hold of Ha-na, her father, Dr. Jung (Jung Jae-young), North Korean officer So-ri (Han Jung Hee), and his young daughter Yoon-hee. Shortly after, Carter finally regains her memory and recalls that So-ri is actually his wife and Yoon-he is his daughter. It also turns out that before he had his memory erased, Carter had asked to be sent on a mission to find Ha-na because Yoon-he had been infected with the DMZ. The group then manage to board a train for China and narrowly escape the North Korean coup attempt to kill them and keep Ha-na for themselves. After all the chaos, it seems like a happy ending. Right?

Well, as with any good ending, it’s not that simple. Before he can fully rejoice at finally being reunited with his family, one of Carter’s naysayers asks him if he really thinks he can believe his new memories are his. After all, a chip was implanted in his brain when he woke up at the start of the movie. Who can say that these memories are not the same thing?

These themes of confidence and mind control bode well for a Carter sequel, who could explore the answer to questions such as: What would these false memories be used for? Could they have simply been a way for the government to appeal to Carter’s pathos and thus convince him to save Ha-na? Could So-ri work for the other team and just pretend to be Carter’s wife?

Throughout the film, a few people refer to Carter as an American citizen and CIA agent named Michael Bane. This further blurs the question of his identity, especially since Bane was allegedly killed in Syria years earlier. Carter, meanwhile, was a South Korean spy posing as a journalist. Could “Carter” have stolen someone’s identity? Why?

Also teasing the possibility of a sequel is the final blow of Carter. After Carter and his (possibly) family board the train to China, all seems well screwed up in the world. They are finally safe and ready to save the world from the DMZ using Ha-na’s antibodies. But then the camera zooms out and there’s an explosion on the train tracks of the bridge. This kind of attack would be nearly impossible for a train to survive, but one can’t help but think that the choice to cut to black before showing the train encountering the broken tracks is intentional.

From now on, the fate of the characters is intentionally open. Occam’s razor says the family is dead; but again, Carter performed a number of unlikely stunts throughout the film. He’s come this far, so it’s not totally impossible that the stuntman would be able to save his family from a falling train.

And if the family Is end up surviving, whatever happens during CarterThe two-hour runtime suggests that from then on navigation will no longer be smooth. The explosion at the end suggests nefarious activity on the part of Carter’s enemies, whether from North Korea, the United States, or elsewhere. And if they continue to block its delivery, then DMZ will no doubt continue to crack down, and we may finally be able to see some of the zombie virus action that Carter alludes to – essentially a World War DMZ. But no matter if CarterWhether the potential sequel delves into a government conspiracy or an all-out zombie pandemic, there’s no doubt it’ll be a wild (and grueling) ride.

Related Topics: Ending Explained, Netflix

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Aurora Amidon spends her days running the Great Expectations column and trying to convince people that Hostel II is one of the best films of all time. Read his mostly embarrassing tweets here: @aurora_starch.

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