HomeExplainersDon't Look Up (2021) summary and ending explained

Don’t Look Up (2021) summary and ending explained

Netflix’s Don’t Look Up is a science fiction satire which focuses on a pair of junior astronomers who discover that a comet is set destroy the earth in six months. The film features a stellar cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Rob Morgan, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Himesh Patel, and Meryl Streep, among others.

Summary

Don’t Look Up kicks off in Michigan State University where an astronomy PhD student, Kate Dibiasky (Lawrence) discovers a previously undetermined near-Earth object while using the Subaru Telescope.

She shares her find with her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) who, much to their horror, discover that it is a comet that will collide with the planet in six months, causing an extinction.

These findings are secretly confirmed by NASA who send their Planetary Defence Coordination Office head, Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe, to accompany Kate and Randall to the White House and break the news to the President, Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep).

Once there, the trio is met with severe indifference by Janie and her son, Chief of Staff Jason Orlean (Hill). They dismiss the news as nothing to worry about. Teddy urges Kate and Randall to leak the news to the media to get attention but that goes wrong as well.

They show up on a morning talk show hosted by Brie Evantee (Blanchett) and Jack Bremmer (Perry) and reveal the shocking truth about the planet’s fate. In an unexpected turn of events, the hosts joke it off and their behaviour causes Kate to lose her temper.

This outburst does nothing more than get Kate trolled online by the masses, including her boyfriend, whereas the silent Randall gets a thumbs up from the public. The actual threat still receives barely any attention or coverage.

Janie has her director of NASA publicly deny the threat but later ousts it herself to divert attention from a sex scandal she gets involved in. She reveals that the government plans to send out a spacecraft into space to strike the comet with weapons and divert its course.

The shuttle launches as per plan but is forced to return by Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance), the billionaire CEO of BASH — one of Janie’s top donors. He reveals that the comet is made up of invaluable material, worth trillions of dollars.

This convinces the White House to use carefully rupture the comet and salvage its remains from the ocean for commercial purposes. The authorities shun Kate and Teddy while hiring Randall as the new National Science Advisor.

Elsewhere, Kate frustrated with the government’s handling of the situation, lets out that the higher ups plan to let the comet hit earth, sparking worldwide chaos and riots. As the world opinion gets divided on what should be done with the comet, the government threatens and silences Kate.

Meanwhile, Randall is forced to advocate the commercial properties of the comet and begins an affair with Brie, the morning show host.

If you’re wondering what happens to the comet and the earth, we’ve got a detailed breakdown for you.

Don’t Look Up ending explained in detail:

Randall’s breakdown

After being threatened, Kate moves back to Illinois and starts dating a young man named Yule (Chalamet) and simultaneously, Randall’s wife June (Melanie Lynskey) finds out about his infidelity.

This incident pushes him over the edge and he lets himself lose on live television. He goes on a savage rant, criticising Orlean’s management for undermining the inevitable apocalypse and pointing fingers at humanity’s indifference.

Naturally, Randall gets cut off by the government and he reconciles with Kate as the comet finally becomes visible from earth, stirring the population.

Rival campaigns

In an attempt to gain traction Teddy, Kate, and Randall start an online protest campaign called “Just Look Up” that targets Janie and BASH. They also urge other countries to try and launch operations to destroy the comet.

Meanwhile, the White House Administration launches a rival campaign called, “Don’t Look Up’ to strengthen their stand. On the political side of things, China, India and Russia are cut-off from the comet mining deal by Janie which forces the three countries to launch a joint mission against the extinction.

They try to launch a rocket but it explodes at launch. However, BASH’s mission to fragment the comet also goes haywire and with no means left to protect themselves, they decide to escape earth.

Janie, Peter, and more rich people board a spaceship designed to keep its passengers alive cryogenically while it seeks the nearest inhabitable planet. The President offers Randall two seats on it but he declines, opting to spend his final moments with the people he cares about.

Extinction

The spaceship leaves the planet but Jason gets left behind. Meanwhile, the comet hits earth, wiping out most of the population. However, in the aftermath of the destruction, Jason is seeing appearing from the rubble and posts about his survival on social media by going live.

Cut to 22,740 years later, the spaceship housing earth’s wealthiest lands on a green and lush planet and the passengers come out of their cryogenic sleep.

Things however go horribly wrong. They exit the spaceship nude and defenceless, and Janie is quickly devoured by an alien species called a Bronteroc. In a jiffy, more Bronterocs approach the humans, supposedly killing them offscreen.


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