This article contains major spoilers for The Last Manhunt’s ending.
Based on the true story of the last manhunt of the Old West, Christian Camargo’s adaptation of the true story of Willie Boy, a Chemehuevi Desert Runner who was pursued at great length by a posse of lawmen after accidentally killing the father of his forbidden lover, Carlota, is a glacially slow affair with several interesting ideas, contrasting viewpoints, and important elements. While the film itself can’t quite keep its ducks in a row, we can help with that, so here are our best efforts in explaining what went down, why, and what it all means.
So, as explained by The Last Manhunt, Willie Boy and Carlota are in love, but can’t be together because they’re fifth-generation cousins and are thus breaking tribal law. Carlota’s father, the tribe’s shaman, is dead against the union, but when he tries to prevent the pair from eloping, he’s accidentally shot and killed by Willie Boy, prompting a large-scale, widely publicized manhunt.
Heading the search is Sheriff Wilson, a drunk who leads several of his men on the hunt alongside a few Native Americans who answer to a lawman named Hyde, who wants to kill Willie Boy. Also present is a reporter named Randolph who blags his way into the group so that he can make the matter front-page news, selling a whole bunch of newspapers by stoking terror of Willie Boy and painting the lawmen as heroes.
The Last Manhunt ending explained
The hunters are all in the chase for different reasons, which causes a lot of disagreements between them, and that fractious atmosphere is the primary driver of the movie. Perhaps if they’d all been on the same page, they would have been more successful, but that’s purely speculation. Nevertheless, it’s really the elements that begin to conspire against Willie Boy and Carlota, when the latter is bitten by a snake and Willie Boy is forced to leave her alone in order to try and find help.
Willie Boy turns to Clara True, a white woman who has a close relationship with Carlota thanks to her work with an agency and has heard of Willie Boy through her. She provides medicine and a warning, though Willie Boy isn’t able to return the former to Carlota. Instead, she’s shot by Hyde, who mistakes her for Willie Boy. She dies as a result of the gunshot, and Hyde weeps over his egregious error.
Randolph, meanwhile, has been spinning Willie Boy as the villain of the story, printing lies about him drinking and praying on a 14-year-old Carlota, and tries to pin her death on him. However, the stresses and tragedies of the manhunt begin to get to everyone. After Willie opens fire on the group, taking out their horses, Sheriff Wilson tells him of Carlota’s death and offers him the chance to turn himself in so he can say his goodbyes to her. In his grief, Willie Boy turns his rifle on himself but doesn’t pull the trigger. Segundo spots Willie but doesn’t attempt to capture him, instead returning to the others to tell them he has fled.
With the hunt having been declared more trouble than it’s worth, Sheriff Wilson orders everyone home. With Randolph’s help, they stage a photo – Big Jim (Jason Momoa) plays the part of Willie – implying Willie is dead, which we actually see the real version of as the movie ends. We also learn that, according to reports, Willie spent years in isolation following the hunt before eventually succumbing to tuberculosis.