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The Ending Of Memory Explained

"Memory" is about a contract killer, Alex Lewis (played by Liam Neeson, adding to his human trafficking-themed films with this police procedural), who wants to retire because of Alzheimer's symptoms. His wishes are ignored by the Mexican cartel he works for, and Alex is ordered to travel to El Paso, Texas, where he grew up, for a double hit. Alex takes out Ellis Van Camp (Scot Williams), a wealthy El Paso contractor, and retrieves flash drives from Van Camp's home safe for the anonymous client.

Alex has a crisis of conscience when he realizes his next mark is an undocumented 13-year-old girl, Beatriz Leon (Mia Sanchez), who was transferred to a social services group home after her father's death landed her in an ICE detention center. Alex crosses paths with FBI agent Vincent Serra (Guy Pearce), who was the undercover agent responsible for Beatriz's father's death — an event that may have destroyed months of work on a joint American-Mexican task force trying to take down a human trafficking ring specializing in underage sex-workers in El Paso and Juárez.

Alex and Agent Serra become unlikely allies when Agent Serra is brought in on the murder investigation of Van Camp. This twisty, action-packed film is about people from both sides of the law, trying to find justice for victims in a society where wealth, privilege, and rampant corruption protect abusers from consequences. If you found the complex plot confusing, keep reading and we'll explain the ending of "Memory." Spoilers ahead!

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Alex refuses to kill Beatriz

Alex follows Agent Serra and Beatriz from the detention center to the group home Beatriz was transferred to after the FBI secured a visa keeping her in the country. Agent Serra feels responsible for Beatriz, wanting to do what he can to help her after what she experienced in the sex-trafficking ring. Alex breaks into Beatriz's room to kill her, but when he sees her face, and Beatriz tells him she won't say anything, he leaves her alive.

After realizing she is a terrified teenager, Alex refuses to kill Beatriz, telling William Borden (Daniel De Bourg), his go-between with the client, to cancel the hit on Beatriz or Alex will kill Borden in retaliation. When Borden contacts the client, we learn she is a wealthy El Paso mogul who expects Borden to deal with the issue himself by calling Mexico City where they ordered the hit.

We don't initially understand why Alex, a contract killer, has such a powerful reaction to the contract on Beatriz's head, but later in the film, we will learn Alex and his brother were victims of child abuse at the hands of their father. Just because he is a contract killer doesn't mean Alex doesn't have a moral compass. He draws the line at hurting children.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Mauricio travels from Mexico City to take out Beatriz

When Alex refuses to kill Beatriz, Mauricio (Lee Boardman), Alex's contact with the Mexican cartel, travels from Mexico City to El Paso to complete the job and deal with Alex's insubordinate behavior. Because of his impaired memory, when Alex hears Beatriz was murdered on the morning news, he gets confused and worries he went back and finished the job, before being reassured he was in his hotel room all night by the sex worker, Maya (Stella Stocker), who stayed with him.

Mauricio ambushes Alex in the hotel parking garage, accidentally shooting Maya when she tries to give Alex the prescription pills he left in the hotel room. Despite their friendship and his diminished mental capacity, Alex subdues Mauricio after a gunfight. Alex ties Mauricio up in the driver's seat of Alex's rental car and puts Maya's body in the car's trunk where it will burn after Alex engages the bomb Mauricio placed under the rental car.

Killing Mauricio is a point of no return for Alex. He knows he can never go back to his old life and work for the Mexican cartel and that they will hunt him down if he doesn't move fast to cover his tracks. If Alex wants to vanish and protect himself from the fallout over killing Mauricio, Alex should leave El Paso immediately, adopting an alias somewhere the cartel would never look for him.

Alex murders William Borden

Alex doesn't decide to vanish, though; instead, he murders William Borden while Borden is running on a treadmill at his gym. He shoots Borden through the plate-glass window under the cover of rain and darkness and walks away before anyone in the gym realizes what has happened. Alex kills Borden in retaliation for Mauricio killing Beatriz, as he promised Borden he would do when Alex told Borden to cancel the hit on Beatriz.

The murder of Borden is being investigated by the same El Paso police officer, Detective Danny Mora (Ray Stevenson), who is also working on the Van Camp murder case, and the car explosion at the hotel garage Alex was responsible for. The nature of these three crimes has Detective Mora and Agent Serra thinking a cartel hitman might be cleaning up something up this side of the border.

Agent Serra tells this theory to his FBI supervisor Gerald Nussbaum (Ray Fearon), who forced Agent Serra and his partner Agent Linda Amisted (Taj Atwal) to work the Van Camp murder case with El Paso PD. Agent Serra suggests all these murders are connected to their human trafficking case and requests to bring the Mexican detective, Hugo Marquez (Harold Torres), who was on loan to the FBI for the joint task force, in on this investigation as a consultant.

Alex goes to war against a group of wealthy human traffickers

After reviewing one of the flash drives he confiscated from Ellis Van Camp's (Scot Williams) home safe after killing Van Camp, Alex realizes he was hired to kill a man who was trying to blackmail a powerful and rich woman, Davana Sealman (Monica Bellucci). Alex puts two and two together, guessing this powerful woman is his client, but he must review the rest of the flash drives to understand why Ms. Sealman hired him.

Ms. Sealman was trying to protect her son, Randy Sealman (Josh Taylor), who is on a video on the flash drive sexually abusing Beatriz. It becomes clear Van Camp was threatening to expose Randy's sick predilection for young undocumented girls, and Ms. Sealman was trying to stop Van Camp from exposing Randy's illegal activities.

Up to this point, Alex wanted to exact vengeance for a child being murdered, but because of Alex's history of abuse, he becomes hell-bent on exacting vengeance for Beatrix and the other victims of Randy and his wealthy friends who were part of a sex-trafficking ring. Still, Alex has realistic expectations, understanding his deteriorating memory or the Mexican cartel may stop him from exacting his brand of vigilante justice.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Alex calls Agent Serra

After killing Borden and reviewing the flash drives, Alex calls Agent Serra while sitting outside his FBI office. Alex identifies himself as David Marshall, the assumed identity Alex used to rent the car he blew up. He confesses to killing Borden and Van Camp, telling Agent Serra the FBI is too slow to make these men pay for hurting children. Alex explains there is a group of rich and powerful men who are not being held accountable for what they are doing to children.

Alex does not identify who his client is, but they hired him to kill Ellis Van Camp. Alex tells Agent Serra that he has been a bad man for a very long time, but he wants these men to pay for their crimes, telling Agent Serra, "If I can't finish this, you have to." This conversation is about how two men on opposite sides of the law become unexpected allies because both of them are intent on making this human trafficking group — which hurts children like Beatriz — pay for their crimes.

After Borden's murder, Agent Serra knows all his cases are connected

Because of his conversation with Alex and the ballistics reports from Ellis Van Camp, Beatriz Leon, and William Borden's murders, Agent Serra knows his trafficking case is unequivocally connected to the hits on Beatriz and these two prominent businessmen in El Paso. The question is how?

When Detective Hugo Marquez tells them Borden's wife Maryanne (Natalie Anderson) overheard her husband on the phone with Davana Sealman talking about "the man from Mexico City," the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Detective Marquez suggests Borden was Ms. Sealman's lawyer, but Agent Amisted tells him Borden was actually Randy Sealman's lawyer.

Davina's son Randy is also a prominent real estate developer in El Paso, and Randy owned the ICE detention center where Beatriz and her father were detained one year ago. The agents also discover Van Camp was the contractor who built the detention center, confirming everyone who is already dead is connected to the center. This connection leads Agent Serra to the conclusion Randy is the next target.

Alex kills Randy Sealman

The night before he is supposed to fly to Switzerland, running away from the consequences of his actions, Randy Sealman shows just how skewed his priorities are and hosts a party on his yacht. Alex, of course, easily infiltrates the party and kills Randy in a bedroom under the noses of the FBI, who were sent by Gerald Nussbaum to ensure Randy's safety.

Agent Serra pursues Alex on foot and catches up with Alex in the parking lot near the slip where the yacht is anchored. They speak face to face and Alex identifies himself as Alex Lewis, telling Agent Serra he has done a lot of awful things in his life, "but you never hurt children." When Detective Marquez arrives with his gun drawn, Alex tells Agent Serra, "You'll never know the truth if I'm dead." Agent Serra asks Detective Marquez to lower his gun, and Alex gets in a car and drives away.

Detective Marquez shoots Alex as he flees the scene because Detective Marquez still thinks Alex killed Beatriz. Alex switches cars and passes out from blood loss. He retreats to his family's vacant bakery to attend to his wounds after killing a police officer who woke Alex up in the stolen truck. Alex is determined to make these men pay for their crimes against children but has no qualms about killing anyone else who gets in his way. Avenging these children is personal for Alex.

Agent Linda Amisted discovers who Alex really is

Armed with the name Alex Lewis, Agent Amisted digs into juvenile records and discovers who Alex really is. He supposedly died in a bakery fire with his father 30 years ago in El Paso. Agent Amisted tells Agent Serra how Alex and his brother, who is in a care facility in El Paso for advanced Alzheimers, were both physically and sexually abused by their father. There are numerous hospital records to support the abuse claims, and their father was never tried for hurting his children.

It is inferred Alex killed his father, faked his own death, and moved to Mexico, where he eventually became a contract killer for a Mexican cartel. This backstory illuminates why Alex cares so much about avenging these children, despite being a contract killer and having questionable morals. What happened to Beatriz — being sold by her father into a trafficking ring — was triggering for Alex. Now. Alex is taking all the pent-up rage he feels about his own childhood out on these awful men who use their privilege and wealth to get away with hurting children.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Alex tries to kill Davana Sealman but is taken into custody

Alex infiltrates Davana Sealman's high-rise building in downtown El Paso, where she is under police protection under the supervision of Detective Danny Mora, the lead investigator on the murder cases. Alex sets off the alarms on the squad cars in the parking garage as a distraction to slip past their perimeter and then takes a police officer hostage to gain access to the roof.

Alex breaks into the penthouse from the roof and puts a gun to Davana Sealman's head, but it won't fire because he left out the firing pin while cleaning the gun at the bakery. This is a perfect example of how Alex has lost his edge as an assassin because of his failing memory. Alex is knocked out by Detective Mora and taken into custody where he is beaten, before being taken to the hospital for his gunshot wound.

Alex says he wants Ms. Sealman dead, and justice for Beatriz, telling Agent Serra he will testify Ms. Sealman hired him. When Agent Serra says Alex's word is no good, Alex says has a flash drive of Van Camp blackmailing Ms. Sealman, but forgot where he hid it. This is when Agent Serra shares a story about a mother and son being killed by a hit-and-run driver who got away with it, explaining justice is elusive when criminals are rich. The story is about Agent Serra's wife and child. This is personal for Agent Serra, too.

Davana Sealman blackmails Dr. Meyers to kill Alex in the hospital

After hiring a hitman to kill a man who blackmailed her, Davana Sealman uses the same tactics and shows how ruthless she is. She threatens her doctor, saying she will tell his wife he took part in Randy's parties with underage sex workers, if Dr. Meyers (Atanas Srebrev) won't kill Alex with a lethal dose she gives him in a syringe. Dr. Meyers declines, saying "I made an oath," but crumbles under the threat and reluctantly agrees to kill Alex in the hospital.

Dr. Meyers uses his position as a medical doctor to be escorted past police and into Alex's hospital room where he tries to kill Alex. Despite his injuries and diminished mental capacity, Alex still recognizes this as an attempt on his life when Dr. Meyers doesn't swab Alex's arm with alcohol before trying to inject the poison. Alex subdues Dr. Meyers and takes him hostage. After escaping his guarded hospital room with his hostage, Alex requests to speak to Agent Serra through the hostage negotiator.

Alex dies by sniper

When Agent Serra arrives at the hospital which is surrounded by El Paso PD and SWAT, he is escorted inside the premier and briefed on the situation before getting into a squad car and driving to the entrance of the hospital, where he waits to talk to Alex. Alex and Dr. Meyers walk out of the hospital covered in a blanket to obscure their faces. After the snipers accidentally shoot Dr. Meyers instead of Alex, because Alex was wearing Dr. Meyers' white coat, Alex gets into the car Agent Serra is waiting in. Alex tells Agent Serra Dr. Meyers was sent to kill him and walked right past the guard, suggesting that Davana Sealman owns them all.

Agent Serra tells Alex, "she doesn't own the FBI," and Alex replies, "maybe they will kill you just to bury this. Bery, spelled B-E-R-Y... you said justice can't be guaranteed, but you owe it to that child Vincent," before getting out of the car and being gunned down by SWAT. While in the hospital, the doctor told Alex he had maybe three to six months left to live, so it seems Alex decided since he couldn't get to Ms. Sealman, he passed the baton to Agent Serra, and Alex chose to meet his bloody end sooner than later.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Agent Serra realizes Alex remembered where he hid the flash drive

While packing up the paperwork for their investigation, Agent Serra removes the pictures from their brainstorming board. While putting them away, he notices a photo of the outside of Alex's family's abandoned bakery, and sees the defunct neon sign on the side of the building spells B-E-R-Y. Agent Serra has this lightbulb moment, understanding what Alex was trying to tell him in the car before he died.

Alex remembered where he hid the flash drive because their conversation triggered his memory. Agent Serra and his partner Agent Amisted retrieve the flash drive with the phone conversation between Davana Sealman and Ellis Van Camp. Now they have all the evidence to prosecute Ms. Sealman for hiring Alex to kill Van Camp and Beatriz. Agent Serra thinks if they can prosecute Ms. Sealman, there is still some hope of getting justice for Beatriz and children like her.

Agent Serra is told to take a leave of absence at the FBI

After bringing the recording of Davina Sealman's phone conversation with Ellis Van Camp to the El Paso district attorney, Agent Serra is told that without Alex's testimony in addition to the corroborating evidence, they don't have a case against Ms. Sealman for hiring Alex to murder Van Camp. The district attorney tells Agent Serra, with people as rich as Ms. Sealman, they usually walk even if it's a solid case, proving Alex's instincts that there is no justice within the system in this situation.

Agent Serra has an emotional outburst because he is sick and tired of not being able to make criminals pay for their crimes from within the criminal justice system as an FBI agent. His anger over what happened to his family and Beatriz wells up and he calls the prosecutor a "coward." Agent Serra's FBI supervisor, Gerald Nussbaum, is in the meeting with the El Paso DA and tells Agent Serra, "a lot of people, myself included are fed up," telling Agent Serra it's time to take a long leave of absence.

Davana Sealman is assassinated

In the ending scenes of "Memory," Agent Amisted shows up at Agent Serra's place, insisting they celebrate his suspension with a couple of drinks. Agent Serra reluctantly agrees and leaves for the bar with Agent Amisted. Meanwhile, Davana Sealman meets her ugly fate when her throat is slit by an assassin in her backyard while she was playing cards and drinking wine alone.

Her murder is announced on television just as Agent Serra hands his credit card to the bartender to pay for drinks because Agent Amisted forgot her wallet. Upon seeing the news report, Agent Amisted recites the prayer for Saint Ines she learned from Detective Marquez. Agent Serra asks, "What's going on? Did you just give me an alibi?" and Agent Amisted replies, "Amen." The camera cuts to a masked man burning his clothing. When the mask was removed, Detective Marquez's face is revealed, and we understand why Marquez killed Davana Sealman.

Earlier in the film, Detective Marquez told Agent Amisted about the girls who went missing in Mexico and how he couldn't get justice for them because the system was corrupt, and the Narcos and cartels ran everything. He explained how he came to El Paso looking for justice on the other side of the border. In the end, Detective Marquez and Agent Amisted conspired to provide Agent Serra with an alibi, while Detective Marquez handed out the only justice left for Beatriz and the other missing girls — vigilante justice.