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The ending of 6 Underground explained

Ryan Reynolds was right: 6 Underground is the most Michael Bay movie ever. It features multiple explosions, more car crashes than you can count, a body count in the double digits, a detached human eye, profane nuns, and a man running down the side of the Duomo in Florence (filmed on location, of course) — and that's just the opening 20 minutes.

With all that action, there's barely any room for a plot, much less a satisfying ending. And yet, somehow, 6 Underground has one anyway. By the end of 6 Underground, almost all of the characters have gone through complete arcs, the themes have been clearly stated and explored, and the pipe has been laid for the inevitable sequel. You were probably just too busy watching things blow up to notice. 

That's okay. 6 Underground isn't the kind of movie you watch for the story anyway. Still, if you made it to the end of Bay's latest blockbuster — and given the spoilers coming up, you should watch the movie first — and thought "Wait, what's going on?," here's everything you missed.

This is a ghost story

But first, a little setup. In 6 Underground, the world is full of very bad people who do very bad things. Who's going to stop them? Regular citizens can't fight back. They're crushed under the thumbs of the rich and powerful. The government won't do anything, not when there's money to be made. The brave men and women in the military do what they can, they're lost in a maze of regulations and red tape.

That's why a billionaire known only as "One" decides to take matters into his own hands. Played by Ryan Reynolds, One faked his death four years prior and now uses his fortune to fund a team of mercenaries — each of whom has also "died" and cut themselves off from the rest of the world — to fight injustice.

Two is a former CIA operative with spy skills galore (why is a French citizen in the CIA? It's not explained). Three is a former hitman who wants to make up for his past sins. Four is a thief and parkour expert who can traverse any terrain. Five is a doctor who provides the team with medical assistance, and Six is a reckless, brash driver who's almost as good as he thinks he is. Together these "ghosts" set out the change the world — or, at the very least, die trying.

Now is the winter of our discontent

6 Underground foreshadows the ending to its main plot fairly early. About half an hour into the movie, we see a flashback in which One in Paris, where he meets the evil ruler of Turgistan, Rovach, at a performance of Shakespeare's Richard III. It's an important meeting. Rovach's smug attitude convinces One to found his own paramilitary organization. Once its up and running, Rovach is its first target.

The play offers One and Rovach the opportunity to trade barbs about how tyrants always get their comeuppance, but the parallels between Rovach's downfall and Richard III run deeper than that. In the play, Richard keeps his brother Clarence locked away in a tower, where he can't interfere with Richard's plans. Rovach does the same thing to his brother Murat — just swap the Tower of London for a Hong Kong skyscraper — forcing the Ghosts to break Murat out.

In addition, before Richard's downfall, he's visited by an army of ghosts who predict his demise. Naturally, it's One's group of "ghosts" who invade Turgistan, turn the citizens against Rovach, and break into the dictator's yacht, leading to Rovach's death. The last thing that Rovach sees before his own people tear him to shreds? One and company's smiling faces.

Not the Cleavers, but close enough

6 Underground isn't subtle about its themes. It's not that kind of a movie. At the end of the day, 6 Underground is all about the healing power of family — both the one that you're born with, and also the one that you choose for yourself.

When 6 Underground begins, One is convinced that the best way to run his renegade military operation is to minimize all emotional ties. The Ghosts only refer to each other by number, and don't know their partners' real names. They only operate in cities they've never been to before, and can only interact with people they've never met. When Six dies in the film's opening mission, Two suggests that the group is his only family. "We're not a family," One scoffs. "Not the Cleavers."

But you can't have a group of people operating in close proximity like that, especially not in life-or-death situations, without building bonds. Over the course of 6 Underground, the Ghosts grow closer. Against One's wishes, they share their real names. While freeing Murat, Four gets cut off from the group. One tells the Ghosts to leave Four behind, but they defy his orders and rescue their comrade.

Ultimately, it's not a bad thing. The closer the Ghosts get, the better they work together, the more successful they become, and the happier they are. By the end of the movie, they're a family — a dysfunctional one, sure, but a family just the same.

There can be only One

Despite what One says, he desperately wants a family. His crack about the Cleavers isn't just a one-off — as we learn later, the Ghosts' airplane headquarters is full of old Leave It to Beaver DVDs. The plane he crashes to fake his death is full of pictures of his serious girlfriend.

Even One's turn towards vigilante-ism is sparked by family. He's inspired to found the Ghosts when delivering medical supplies to Turgistan — a stop that's more about photo-ops than really helping people — and sees first-hand what happens when Rovach uses chemical weapons on his own people. As One passes out gas masks, it's not the mass suffering that makes One reconsider his life choices. It's the plight of a few children, separated from their families, choking on the gas.

Ultimately, One accepts that personal connections make you stronger, not weaker. After stopping Rovach's reign of terror, One returns to New York. He clandestinely follows his ex, and realizes that she has a four-year-old, blond-haired child. We don't know for sure that the kid is One's, but it seems pretty likely. Before, One thought he had to give up his life to help others. Now, he's has something to live for — and he's even more willing to fight for it.

Life after death

Almost every other Ghost goes through a similar journey. When she was with the CIA, Two ignored her emotions and followed orders she knew were wrong. Three was disowned by his elderly mother for his violent job, which ended up orphaning a young girl. Four was abandoned by his friends after a heist went sour. All of them decide to give up their normal lives to join One, hoping to find redemption along the way.

Every one of these characters finds salvation in their family (or, sometimes, families). After Two and Three hook up in Las Vegas, Two lets down her emotional barriers and pursues a real relationship. Three introduces Two to his mom, and the son and mother reconcile. After the Ghosts — including One — rescue Four from danger not once but twice, the reformed thief realizes he finally has friends he can trust. 6 Underground begins with a voice over about the freedom death provides, but ends with a monologue detailing how life gives us purpose. That's not an accident.

Even Five seems happier with this newfound camaraderie, although she gets the short shrift in the movie. Unlike the other Ghosts, Five doesn't get a flashback explaining her motivations, and her medical skills barely contribute to film's action scenes. That's too bad, since Adria Arjona turns in a compelling performance, but it does leave some ground to explore in the sequel.

When Seven makes Six

Seven, played by Corey Hawkins, has a slightly different arc. Seven already has people who love him. He doesn't join the team until after Six dies during the Ghosts' first mission, leaving an opening in the squad.

Before joining the Ghosts, Seven (also known as Blaine), was an army sniper stationed in Afghanistan. One day, while surveilling a meeting, he spots a terrorist masquerading as a U.N. representative. Blaine asks his superiors for permission to shoot the man, but they decline. A bomb explodes, and many of Blaine's fellow soldiers are dead.

Traumatized, Blaine returns home. One is waiting for him with an offer. "I will never tell you to not pull that trigger," One says. That's all that Blaine needs to sign up. Except it's not exactly true: The rest of the Ghosts don't trust Seven, and One constantly stops Blaine from following his instincts.

When One tells Seven to abandon Four, who's being chased by the bad guys, the former soldier rebels. After Afghanistan, he won't lose another comrade. He pulls a gun on Three, who's driving, and forces everyone to wait until Four. Later, Seven is the one who encourages everyone to share his real names. During the film's climax, when One goes back to save Four from certain death, we see how much Four has rubbed off on him.

Ultimately, Seven is the one who brings the team together. He might've joined the Ghosts for different reasons than everyone else, but they wouldn't have become a family without him.

But who is One?

Even as 6 Undergrounds' credits roll, One remains a mystery. He's the only member of the Ghosts who doesn't reveal his real name. Despite his fortune, none of the rest of the squad recognizes him, although that's not too bizarre. As One points out, other than Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and a handful of others, how many other billionaires do you really know?

Still, there's more going on than One lets on. He has no problem getting top-of-the-line weapons and military equipment. He never explains how he found the other ghosts, or how he knew exactly when to approach them while recruiting. He's hooked into the international intelligence community to an absurd degree. Most suspiciously, he's incredibly handy with military-grade firearms. Even for a man with money and government connections, it seems like One is more than just a dude who works with magnets.

The other characters call attention to all of this multiple times, but neither One nor 6 Underground offer any answers. One's true identity is 6 Underground's biggest dangling plot thread. If there's a sequel, expect One's backstory to play a big part.

One, but not done

By the end of 6 Underground, the Ghosts have created a coup in Turgistan. Rovach is dead, and his pro-democracy brother is in control. The civilians have been saved from another round of chemical weapon attacks. The squad is happy. The mission is done.

But it's just the first mission. As One explains earlier in the movie, Rovach was just the first name on the Ghosts' hitlist. There are eight more. Despite all of the setbacks, the Ghosts made the world a slightly better place, but their work isn't done. There are still bad people out there, and the Ghosts are going to take 'em out.

In other words: If 6 Underground is a hit, Michael Bay and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have already planted the seeds for up to eight sequels. Hope you liked 6 Underground's unique concoction of mayhem. You're going to be watching these movies forever.