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The Ending Of Wander Explained

Not a lot has been said about "Wander." Part of that probably comes down to the fact that it was released during 2020, the year that swallowed movies like it was Cronus at a Gymboree. Luckily, the film is finding a second life on Amazon Prime, giving viewers the long-awaited opportunity to see two live-action Two-Faces go head to head. Or, if you'd prefer, face to face to face to face.

Written by Tim Doiron and directed by April Mullen, the same crackerjack team behind 2012's "Dead Before Dawn 3D," "Wander" explores the life of one Arthur Bretnik (Aaron Eckhart), a conspiracy enthusiast just about the right age to have first seen "X-Files" at a formative point in his development. Arthur's predilections are fueled in part by his friend and podcast associate Jimmy Cleats, played by Tommy Lee Jones with all the energy of Hunter S. Thompson if he'd taken things 10% easier.

Mostly, though, Bretnik views life through what, to most people, would look to be a specifically unhelpful lens. He works as a private investigator, keeping tabs on all the lies that other people think they can get away with. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and if all you have is a telephoto lens full of people being little stinkers, everyone looks like a suspect.

More like "Aaron Ick, Heart"

Where other conspiracy thrillers might spend the majority of their runtime focused on unreliable narration, impishly shrugging off the audience's desperate pleas for some hint at what's real, "Wander" ramps up its shaky grasp on truth. From its opening shot, the film tells you exactly what's going on: people are being implanted with exploding chips, and a shadowy group of powerful individuals is behind the whole thing.

So it's a neat trick when the movie convinces you to question what you've already seen. By the end of "Wander," you're in a paranoia simulator right alongside Eckhart's Bretnik. You're really not sure what he'll find when he starts digging around in his chest with a clicky pen, aside from blood and, depending on the quality of the pen, ink.

Lo and behold, it's a chip. As he suspected, Arthur's confinement is just another layer in the conspiratorial bean dip that is his life. He dies laughing, vindicated by the knowledge that his journals have been "Watchmen" epilogued to his trusted associate Shelly (Heather Graham), ensuring not only that the truth will be out there, but that she'll totally have to admit that he was onto something. May we all be so lucky.

Or maybe it was all a hallucination. Maybe Shelly received a pile of nonsense scribbles and Arthur imagined that he'd yoinked a microchip out of his torso as he slowly succumbed to blood loss and ink poisoning. Unreliable narration, man. It'll get ya every time.