How I Became a Gangster Ending Explained – why didn’t Walden want to be saved?

January 4, 2023 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)
Lori C. 0
Ending Explained, Film, Netflix, Streaming Service
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We discuss the ending of the Netflix film How I Became a Gangster, which will contain spoilers.

How I Became a Gangster is a crime movie detailing the life of an unnamed titular gangster played by Marcin Kowalczyk. Directed by Maciej Kawulski, the film shows the narrator’s story from his humble beginnings as the son of a taxi driver to his becoming the head of an organized crime group. 

Synopsis according to my review: 

Set in Warsaw, the film starts with the unnamed narrator describing his early life in 70s Poland. Despite being born into a loving family, the protagonist spent his childhood getting into violent fights, stealing his father’s taxi at night, and driving by a hotel patronized by local gangsters and sex workers. By the time he was a teen, the young entrepreneur was pimping out local girls to Saudi tourists. When clients would get violent with the ladies, the narrator would let off some steam by beating the life out of them. As the years go by, the protagonist’s rank in Warsaw’s criminal underground grew until he landed in prison for the first time. Not for committing robberies, but for randomly beating up three football fans. Upon his release, the lead starts a criminal enterprise with a young man he took under his wing, Walden, and several others. He also falls in love and marries a classy young woman who’s blissfully unaware or simply doesn’t care about his business. 

After several years of being virtually untouchable, our unnamed Gangster finds himself in prison for the second time in his life. Oddly, none of his violent acts landed him there. Instead, he was arrested and charged with the theft of a museum artifact the nice elderly couple who sold him his home left behind. While the Gangster is behind bars, his best friend Walden decides to try and assassinate the big mafia boss with a penchant for libraries, Daniel, even after our protagonist orders him not to.

How I Became a Gangster Ending Explained

Knowing that going after Daniel could cost Walden his life, the protagonist gets himself out of prison (by getting in touch with the elderly couple who sold him the house and kindly asking them to come clean about the stolen art) and comes up with an elaborate plan to save his coked-up best friend. The plan involves faking Walden’s death and asking the other members of his crew to help him, his pregnant wife and Walden’s girlfriend leave Poland and start anew. He also pretends to set over 500 kilograms of Daniel’s cocaine ablaze, before stealing it for himself and his gang.

Yet, when Walden wakes up from his stupor and realizes he’s on a boat leaving Poland, he’s less than impressed. Walden didn’t want to be saved. He finally reveals the real reason for his increasingly unhinged behavior: During one heist when it all went wrong, Walden pulled the trigger on an innocent 6-year-old boy. Hearing that his best friend murdered a child was enough to trigger a vomit response in our protagonist. But by the time he’s ready to face Walden again, it’s too late, as the young gangster grabs the gun and shoots himself in the head. 

The final scenes are set many years after Walden’s death, with the narrator giving his now-teenaged son some fatherly advice from prison. We don’t know why he’s behind bars or whether he’d been in prison for his child’s entire life. The gangster who appeared at the beginning of the movie giving a talk about his tell-all book wasn’t our protagonist, but Daniel. While our protagonist remains unnamed, we do see him being released from prison, which may suggest he’ll probably go back to the same life of crime he’d been accustomed to for his entire existence. 

What did you think of the ending of the Netflix film How I Became a Gangster? Comment below.

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