Netflix’s Carter is an exhilarating action thriller set amid a pandemic in North Korea and USA. It follows the titular character, who wakes up without his memory and is sent on a rescue mission by a mysterious woman talking in his ear. From there, Carter gets embroiled in a political stand-off between the two Korean governments and the CIA.
The film starts Joo Won in the lead and has been stitched together to make it feel like a one shot sequence.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
The film opens with a lot of exposition via news telecasts that reveal a lethal virus from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Korea has been spreading for the past two months. It makes the infected exceedingly violent and super strong. However, patient usually die within 13 days.
It has also spread in America via the soldiers who returned from North Korea. However, South Korea is declared a virus free zone by the WHO. Furthermore, an important person named Dr. Jung Byeong-ho has been missing for 19 days.
The North Koreans are desperately searching for him as he was able to cure his daughter Jung Ha-na from the virus. He was on his way to the Sinuiju Chemical Weapons Institute to mass produce an antidote but went missing en route.
As we get the basic understanding of the setup, a group of CIA agents in South Korea narrow in on a mysterious man. He wakes up to no memory and is held at gunpoint. The agents demand to know where Dr. Jung is but the man is confused.
They show him a video in which the man sees himself with the doctor and instructs the CIA to come see him. Still bewildered, he gets a call and a woman answers. She tells him that his name is Carter and asks to speak to one of the agents. The phone explodes, allowing Carter to escape.
The voice tells Carter that he has a device planted in his ear and only he can hear her. Also, he has an explosive device in his mouth which will go off should he not comply.
Carter escapes and kills his pursuers in the process. He is then instructed to get into a yellow van where he meets Choi Yu-jin, a member of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in South Korea. In addition, the voice tells him that she is Han Jung Hee, working for the International Liaison Department in North Korea.
They have teams up with the South to find a cure but the antidote lies within Ha-na’s body who was kidnapped by A9 — a secret organisation linked with the CIA. She says that it is imperative that Carter finds and delivers the girl to North Korea and save the infected.
Another bombshell is dropped on Carter when he is told tat the entire mission was his idea. He is confused as to why he would want his memory to be blocked.
Jung Hee informs him that he used to be a CIA agent stationed in South Korea and entered the North undercover as a journalist. He was a coveted soldier but the North Koreans suspected him of being an American spy. This resulted in a female spy being assigned to keep an eye on him.
In a twist of fate, the spy and Carter fell in love, got married and had a daughter. To add to the misery, he is told that his wife succumbed to the virus but his daughter, Yoon Hee, is infected but still alive.
Carter is still questioning the authenticity of this information but agrees to finish the mission as lives depend on it. He steps out of the van, equipped with tactical gear and weapons, making his way to an abandoned mall (the CIA’s makeshift base).
More action follows as Carter runs through the agents guarding Ha-na. He’s made aware that it has been 13 days since his daughter got infected and only has a day to live unless the antidote is obtained.
He finds Ha-na and makes her talk to her dad on the voice’s instructions. The girl agrees to come along with him but they’re cornered by a senior agent named Smith who provides an interesting twist to the scenario.
Carter ending explained in detail:
Who is Michael Bane?
Smith’s men capture Ha-na and hold Carter at gunpoint. In the conversation that follows, Smith reveals that Carter was born in 1986 in South Korea and moved to USA at age 11. The agent also believes that the virus is a South Korean creation but Carter states that he thinks it was America who created it.
A female agent then arrives at the scene and tells Smith that Carter’s movements matched that of a man named Michael Bane. Bane was a former CIA agent who was killed in Syria.
Smith observes Carter closely and notices the device on the back on his head. It is something called BD-7 that is used to erase memories. He exclaims that Carter is Bane and has probably undergone plastic surgery to change his face.
Han Jung Hee uses this time to cut communications from Carter from a moment and amplifies the signal from his mouth explosive to attract the CIA’s attention.
The agents pull out his molar which explodes, giving Carter and Ha-na the window they need to escape. A mysterious text from an unknown person puts further confusion in his brain.
The text says that his real name is Michael Bane and if wants to learn more, he should board a bus nearby. Meanwhile, the voice in his ear asks him to get into the yellow van with the girl.
Carter, curious for more information picks the bus and sees the same female agent from before. Her name is Agnes and she tells him about his past life in America when both of them were together.
Unfortunately, she gets shot at and warns Carter to escape with the girl before the CIA arrives. A bike chase ensues during which it is confirmed that Carter is Bane. However, the CIA still wants to eliminate him as he has gone rogue.
What is the North Korean coup?
Carter disposes off the CIA attackers and escorts Ha-na to an air strip where they are greeted by Kim Dong-Gyu, the director of North Korean relations at NIS. They board a plane alongside officers from both Korean governments and a few American journalists — to prevent the CIA from acting rashly.
As the duo is treated in the medical room, the director warns them to not trust anyone. Incidentally, the pilots are knocked out due to a poisoned coffee and all hell breaks loose.
A few of the staff is infected with the virus and starts attacking everyone in sight. The medical officer, Ri Cheol Ju, turns out to be a traitor and takes Ha-na to the cargo bay where he kills Dong-Gyu.
Before this however, a conversation between the two reveals that some North Korean traitors have starter a coup to topple the current regime and the director suspects Ri Cheol Ju to be a member of that.
It comes as a shock when he defies that conclusion and reveals that he works for the CIA. After the director’s death, Carter and the medical officer battle but an explosion blows open the back of the plane.
What follows is an aerial battle between the two as Ha-na also free falls with them. Carter manages to kill the medic, steal his parachute and save the girl.
They land in the back of a pick-up truck and Carter annihilates his on-ground pursuers as well.
How does Carter get his memory back?
After crossing into North Korea, Carter meets Lieutenant General Kim Jong Hyeok and the woman talking to him, Han Jung Hee.
With his mission complete, Carter awaits for his memory to be restored but Kim Jong Hyeok, who is revealed to be the leader of the coup, betrays them. Furthermore, Han Jung Hee turns out to be the spy assigned to him who he later married.
She pleads with the General to spare her husband’s life and let him leave the country but her requests fall on deaf ears. However, still a ruthless killing machine, Carter destroys the soldiers and escapes.
Eventually, he makes his way to Sinuiju Chemical Factory and observes Kim Jong Hyeok via a sniper scope. He calls his wife and instructs her to put the phone on speaker.
He learns that the General instructed his men to keep Carter alive in hopes of getting his wife to side with him, using Carter and their daughter’s safety as leverage. However, he didn’t intend for them to leave as they could inform the American government about his agenda.
Carter shoots at his target but misses. Not wasting any time, he drives into the factory and finds his daughter along with his wife. They take Yoon Hee to Dr. Jung who administers the antidote.
Carter’s family, Dr. Jung and Ha-na escape from the factory as the doctor opens his stitches and installs a chip to bring his memories back.
What do Carter’s memories reveal?
The protagonist’s memories come flooding back and in them we learn that Carter was trying to escape the country with his wife and daughter when the General cornered them.
He knew there was no running away as the government would never let one of their own spies to escape the country. To save the situation he proposes the mission. He asked Kim Jong Hyeok to let his family go if he could bring Ha-na back from the CIA.
The General agreed but infected his daughter to ensure loyalty. However, when he completed his end of the bargain, he was betrayed.
In the present, Carter takes Ha- na and Yoon Hee (who wakes up because of the antidote) with him as the doctor and Han Jung Hee try to create a diversion.
Carter tears his way through the soldiers and manages to kill the General once and for all. Finally, the group gets on a train heading to Dandong, China.
Before, you think that the film has a happy ending, a bridge in the train’s path collapses.