Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of Legacy Of Lies Explained

"Legacy of Lies" is the 2020 spy thriller that stars action movie mainstay Scott Adkins as an ex-MI6 agent who gets pulled out of retirement for one last job, which threatens to both hurt his daughter and make him realize some disturbing truths about his past. Twelve years before the movie takes place, Martin and his spy partner (and lover) Olga (Tetiana Nosenko) were sent on a mission to Kyiv to recover some files that would incriminate the Russian government. The mission went wrong, Olga was killed, and Martin left the spy life behind for a new career as a bar bouncer and occasional cage fighter.

In the present day, Martin lives a somewhat happy life with his and Olga's daughter, Lisa (Honor Kneafsey), who doesn't know the truth about her mother. That's when Sasha (Yuliia Sobol), the daughter of an old acquaintance, arrives and asks for his help in recovering those same files. But as you'd expect from any decent espionage movie, not everything is as it seems. Like the title suggests, a lot of people are lying, including Martin himself and those closest to him.

Here's what's up with the ending of "Legacy of Lies," including the big twist.

Martin's awful history nearly repeats itself

Towards the end of the movie, Martin offers up the coveted files in exchange for Sasha and Lisa's lives. This moment is a tense and terrifying replay of one of the worst moment's in Martin's life, when he failed to save Olga from the Russian spy who held her hostage in exchange for the files. This time, the exact same scenario happens, but with the latest Russian spy Tatyana holding his latest spy partner hostage. Martin once again tries to throw over the files, and again quickly pulls out his gun to try to shoot his adversary. But Martin has a flashback to the botched mission in Kyiv. The memory of his past failure makes him hesitate, and it nearly costs him his life. Tatyana guns him down, leaving him clinging to life.

However, the worst part of this ordeal isn't getting shot, it's what happens next. The police arrive to arrest Sasha and steal the files. Sasha jumps off the bridge and into the water, getting shot in the process. The film shows Sasha sinking into the water below, and then cuts to shots of both Olga and Martin sinking in water, too.

Sasha is the only one literally underwater, so the shots of Olga and Martin are symbolic. They represent Martin's fears of losing the people he cares about. When the movie intercuts the shots of Sasha drowning with the shots of Olga and Martin drowning, it represents his last conscious moments on the bridge before he blacks out. He doesn't know his Sasha's fate, but he fears the worst. It's your classic "all is lost" moment in storytelling, when the hero thinks they've failed in the worst possible way. 

The identity of the CIA-MI6 mole ultimately doesn't matter

This might be one of the most frustrating moments in the movie, but it makes more sense why the filmmakers handled it the way they did when you consider what happens next. Earlier in the movie, the CIA agent Trevor warned Martin that a traitor in the CIA-MI6 network is responsible for the botched mission in Kyiv 12 years earlier. After she escapes the bridge, Sasha writes Lisa a letter telling her the identity of the double agent. Crucially, the film doesn't share who this person is. But whatever name Sasha gives Lisa, it's most likely a lie.

This is because, as the movie reveals moments later, Sasha isn't quite the journalist that she's presented herself to be. She's a Russian agent who's been manipulating Martin the entire time, and she does so again — more on this below. While it's possible there really was a double agent who betrayed Martin, it's also possible that this is a ploy meant to throw Martin off the scene of his real betrayer: Sasha. 

Since Sasha was the entire reason Martin came out of retirement for his latest mission, this has disturbing implications for the story. Why did the Russian government want Sasha to recover the files and expose its own sins? Was it really the government as a whole, or was it elements within the government? The film doesn't specify leaving the door open for a possible sequel. Nonetheless, whoever Sasha's bosses are, it's unlikely their intentions are noble.

All the different lies and their consequences

After the pivotal bridge confrontation, "Legacy of Lies" wraps things up by examining the various lies that the title refers to, as well as their effects on the people involved.

First up is Martin's lie to Lisa, when he withheld the truth about her mother Olga's death and claimed it was an accident. When Lisa visits her father in a Ukrainian hospital, she tells him that Sasha has given her the truth. He apologizes and admits that he just didn't know how to tell her. Lisa appreciates this long overdue moment of honesty: their relationship will recover.

Next are the Russian government's multiple lies about its secret chemical weapons development and its program to murder opposition journalists. When Sasha publishes the files, she exposes the Russian government's lies. But unlike Martin, the Russian government continues to lie. This results in the biggest protests in years, and it's likely that trust between the government and its citizens is damaged irreparably — which could be exactly what Sasha and her handlers wanted. 

However, the final lie hasn't yet been exposed, and it might be the most devastating of all. In the film's last moments, Sasha visits Martin and Lisa in their new home (and vegan snack bar). The exact nature of Sasha and Martin's relationship at this point is open to interpretation. They could just be friends, or they could be something more, but either way it's not a real relationship. In the end, she's revealed to be a Russian spy. She's been manipulating Martin the entire time and will keep manipulating him in the future. If and when Martin finds out, it could well destroy him.