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The Ending Of Guy Ritchie's The Covenant Explained

Director Guy Ritchie takes a break from his usual British gangster and crime films to tell an original story set within the War in Afghanistan, focused on the bond between a seasoned U.S. soldier and an Afghan interpreter. The film follows John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal), a sergeant in the U.S. Army, whose team is given a new interpreter named Ahmed (Dar Salim) while on their latest mission to find factories making improvised explosive devices (IEDs). However, after their most recent lead on a factory results in an deadly ambush, John and Ahmed are forced to rely on each other and develop a genuine bond that won't break until both of them are safely out of this conflict. 

Along with delivering some heart-pounding action scenes that keep viewers on the edge of their seats, "The Covenant" genuinely tugs at the viewer's emotions by the way John and Ahmed stick with each other through thick and thin. John and Ahmed show their determination to keep each other alive even when things get dire, and it's what makes all of their encounters with the Taliban incredibly suspenseful. There's a fantastic turning point in the film that solidifies how much they mean to each other, resulting in a palpably tense, thrilling ending, full of memorable moments, that puts the fate of its central characters in jeopardy. Let's delve into the biggest moments from "The Covenant" and its riveting finale. 

Historical context

Before delving into the ending of "The Covenant," it's worth looking at some of the historical context provided in the film's opening, especially as it heavily ties into John and Ahmed's unique dynamic. As explained by the opening text when the film begins, the U.S. has only become more embedded with its war efforts ever since the September 11th attacks led the U.S. to initially send troops into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime. More than doubling its deployment rate and continually sending soldiers into Afghanistan for new operations, the U.S. also employs and trains Afghan citizens to act as interpreters so that they can earn visas for them and their families to escape the brutal Taliban. 

By the time the film introduces us to John and his team, the war has gone on for over a decade and caused some tension between U.S. soldiers and the interpreters. John and his team have not only recently lost their interpreter during a car bombing at a checkpoint, but a fellow soldier as well. So when Ahmed comes onto the team, there's some underlying tension between John and Ahmed that results in some distrust and conflict. Thankfully, that starts to change, but the film does set up the background of the interpreters and their roles during the War in Afghanistan, and why John and Ahmed don't exactly get off on the right foot. 

A change of heart

While John and Ahmed aren't exactly on the same page at first, there are moments that start to break down John's icy attitude toward the interpreter. At first, John is upset with Ahmed for disregarding his orders and doesn't really feel like he's telling him the whole truth when Ahmed is talking with Afghan citizens. However, there's a moment where Ahmed gains John's trust and respect after he saves the group from heading into a deadly ambush. As the group is heading towards a potential IED factory, another interpreter suggests they take a different route — which causes Ahmed to become suspicious of him. 

Eventually, Ahmed confronts the interpreter and ends up hitting him in the face and nearly killing him to reveal his real intentions. This leads John in turn to nearly shoot Ahmed, since he is concerned by Ahmed's suddenly violent actions, but he's eventually told by his higher-ups that Ahmed is right. It turns out that the interpreter was leading the group towards a Taliban ambush because they supposedly have his family held captive. It's a strong turning point in Ahmed and John's dynamic and really emphasizes what Ahmed says to John about being an "interpreter" rather than just a translator. From here, John views Ahmed not only as an equal, but rather a vital part of his team's safety. 


John and his team eventually come across a prominent IED factory in a mining area that they quickly overtake and prepare to destroy. Unfortunately, reinforcements are called in just as they arrive, so they're met with resistance and quickly end up in a deadly firefight. Although John and his team are skilled soldiers and carrying strong firepower, they're no match for the sheer numbers of Taliban soldiers that pour into this mining area. The entire sequence is full of crushing losses as John's team is picked off one by one until only him and Ahmed remain. 

John and Ahmed barely make it out alive themselves and are now forced to go on the run from the Taliban as they're relentlessly hunted down. John and his team being ambushed and killed is one of the most emotionally charged moments of the film since it's not only rough to watch, but also pushes John and Ahmed into a desperate fight for their lives. 

Finally found

Although John and Ahmed are able to escape the Taliban's grasp for quite a while, they're eventually caught in a compromising spot where John is nearly killed by Taliban soldiers. Thankfully, Ahmed saves John but not before John is injured so badly that he can't continue to walk. While it might seem better for Ahmed to just leave John and save himself, there's no chance of him doing that and he embarks on a perilous journey to save them both by carrying John along on a makeshift sled. 

Ahmed and John's journey is far from easy. It causes some physical wear on Ahmed's body that nearly makes him incapable of continuing, plus there's a constant threat of being discovered by the Taliban. There's even a point where Ahmed is forced to give Taliban soldiers a ride in a car he manages to get hold of, while John is in the bed of the truck. Eventually, Ahmed reaches a small stand that's just outside the Army base and decides to grab some water. Unfortunately, a Taliban truck pulls up with some soldiers and Ahmed is forced to fight them off to stay alive. He succeeds and luckily, the Army arrives to save them both — ending this treacherous and gut-wrenching journey of survival. 

Not out of danger

After Ahmed and John are rescued by the Army, John is sent back home where he's treated for his wounds and fully recovers. Unfortunately, Ahmed's deal with the Army isn't fulfilled, as he's not only still stuck in Afghanistan, but now faces even more risk. The visas for Ahmed and his family still haven't been approved yet, so they're unable to travel to the U.S. for safety. It almost feels too convenient for Ahmed to be stuck like this and there's a suspicion that this is all part of some cruel tactic by the U.S. — to entice interpreters to help the military with the promise of visas but then not give the documents to them once they're in serious danger. 

With the story of how Ahmed helped John survive and kill Taliban soldiers circulating throughout the country, Ahmed has risen to the top of the Taliban's most wanted list and is forced into hiding with his family. We see that as soon as the Taliban arrive wherever Ahmed is, he and his family are forced to pack up and escape with no time to spare. Ahmed is in a much more dangerous situation now, as he doesn't even have the Army's protection and his family is more directly in danger — which deeply upsets John. 

Risky business

Even though John is now safe at home with the love and comfort of his family around him, it's not enough to make him forget about Ahmed being in danger. For months, he struggles to get to sleep and is haunted by the idea of the man who saved his life still being in danger while he is unable to do anything about it. With John's persistent calls not helping to expedite the process for Ahmed and his family's visas, he determines that he's left with no options other than rescuing Ahmed himself. John wrestles with this decision for a while since he doesn't want to upset his family, but eventually gets the sense that his wife approves, which lets him start to make a plan to go back to Afghanistan. 

With the help of his friend Declan (Alexander Ludwig), John is put in contact with a hired mercenary named Parker (Anthony Starr), whose team will help him find and rescue Ahmed and his family. Although his plans are nearly stopped by higher-ups in the military, John's determination to do what's right leads him to head back to Afghanistan and repay his debts to Ahmed.

Breach of contract

Although Parker is initially hired by John to help him find and save Ahmed, he's unable to fulfill his contract. Unfortunately, Parker's team has been hired to keep a special diplomat safe and can't work on John's case for another few days. John is obviously upset about this delay and says that Parker needs to hold up his end of the bargain. But Parker's hands are tied, so it seems like John's plans to save Ahmed are rapidly going nowhere and the risk of Ahmed dying in the meantime drastically increases. 

Not wanting to wait any longer, John decides to attempt a rescue of Ahmed and his family alone. While Parker can't directly help him in his mission, he does offer John some meaningful assistance. Parker not only supplies John with a truck and some ammunition, but he also tells John that once he finds Ahmed, he can radio in his location and Parker will send a helicopter over to get them. Even though John has to go on his own, without Parker's support, his plan is back on track and his journey to find Ahmed begins. 

Finding an old friend

John's solo journey to rescue Ahmed leads him to many interesting places that both help and endanger his mission. John first meets up with Ahmed's brother Ali (Damon Zolfaghari), who assists the Taliban with certain things and is safe from the Taliban's wrath because of it. From there, John is driven to Ahmed's last location by an ally of Ali's and goes through some rough patches along the way. Although Ali has given the driver a pass that will get him through Taliban checkpoints, there's a moment where a couple of Taliban soldiers stop the truck and search it. Luckily, John is quick on the trigger and is able to dispatch the two soldiers before both he and the driver are killed. 

Unfortunately, another Taliban soldier sees them from his car and alerts his leaders before following their movements. Eventually, John reaches a small town where he sees Ahmed working on a car and makes his way towards him to reunite. The two exchange some kind words and Ahmed even introduces John to his family. Given what John and Ahmed have been through in this war, it's an emotional moment when they reunite and finally make plans to escape this nightmare. 

Fight to the finish

While it might seem like John and Ahmed are about to narrowly escape the Taliban — who quickly rush into the town — a citizen alerts the Taliban of where they went and they quickly follow in hot pursuit. This kicks off the film's huge finale, involving a firefight full of high tension and near-death experiences. At first, John and Ahmed create some good roadblocks that stop the Taliban from following them by car, but the Taliban are relentless in trying to kill them so it only stops them for a short time. John and Ahmed's group eventually gets up onto a dam which they try to get across, but take such heavy fire that it gets to the point where things seem hopeless.

Although they're able to fight off and even kill a lot of the Taliban soldiers, John and Ahmed are simply outnumbered, outgunned, and nearly out of time. They quickly run out of ammunition and are forced to eventually accept their fate. It's another crushing moment in "The Covenant" that makes the viewer feel like John and Ahmed's journey is about to come to a tragic end — until a little guardian angel appears.

Saved by an angel

Just as things seem totally hopeless for John and Ahmed, they're suddenly saved by the arrival of an angel. No, not an actual angel from somewhere above the clouds, but rather a special military helicopter dubbed "Angel" for its capabilities of saving soldiers with its powerful weapons. The entire Taliban army that comes to kill John and Ahmed is absolutely destroyed by the Angel's incredible firepower, and it's a wild sequence to watch. One moment it seems like John and Ahmed weren't making it out alive and the next, they're completely saved and able to walk away. 

Shortly after the Taliban is decimated, Parker arrives and tells John that if he knew who they were — from the stories he had been hearing about Ahmed's journey to save John — he would have done the whole thing for free. Obviously, it would have been nice if Parker just kept his word from the start, but he at least arrives in the clutch at a pivotal moment to keep John and Ahmed alive. 

Flying home

After John and Ahmed are saved by Parker and his soldiers, they board a helicopter that will take them back to base. It's an absolutely satisfying moment to not only see that Ahmed and his family will finally find safety, since they're also given their visas by Parker, but also that John is able to repay his debt. These two have been through an thoroughly harrowing journey together and have faced multiple brushes with death. Now, they finally get to return to their lives peacefully and the viewer is left to hope that John and Ahmed's families remain friends back in the U.S. 

The film ends with some additional text, noting that Ahmed's story isn't exactly complete fiction. The text explains that when the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan after the U.S. pulled its troops out in 2021, many interpreters who worked with the U.S. were forced into hiding and face impending death if caught by the Taliban. It's a gut-wrenching reminder about the War in Afghanistan's continual impact. The film also ends with some photos of U.S. soldiers and Afghan interpreters, which reflect in real life the bond of John and Ahmed's fictional relationship. 

Could there be a sequel?

At the moment, no plans for a sequel for "The Covenant" have been announced, and there likely won't be one. The film's box office performance to date frankly isn't strong enough to warrant the studio, MGM, investing in another film. Plus the story of John and Ahmed really ends with this movie. The two men are able to escape the Taliban together and go back to the U.S. to hopefully live out their lives peacefully together with their families. The story is pretty much over, so a sequel couldn't do much to continue their journey. 

The only way for "The Covenant" to continue in some fashion is by going the anthology route and following different soldier/interpreter relationships throughout the War in Afghanistan. But since it seems unlikely as well that we'll see anything along those lines, "The Covenant" can be seen as a great one-off from Guy Ritchie that's action-packed, full of real emotion, and full of insight into friendship and loyalty.