Netflix’s Polish gangster flick ‘How I Became a Gangster’ follows the protagonist as he narrates his story of how he came to be one of the biggest gangsters in Warsaw.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
In the 70s Polish People’s Republic, an unnamed teenager leads a happy life, constantly getting into fights at school and most of the time, winning them.
Coming from a family full of regular folks, his need for adrenaline is anomalous. It is this adrenaline-driven life that eventually leads him to the gangster life, the allure of which has always had a hold on him.
His hijinks grow from squaring up against Arabs to earning a big buck with his prostitute friends. Later, he becomes a full-fledged gangster and gradually climbs up the ranks of the mafia.
However, when a successful robbery eventually gets traced back to him, all the other gangsters in his circle, superior and inferior, get long sentences. The unnamed protagonist gets lucky and gets out only after 18 months.
Following his release, he changes his ways of doing things. He created a tight-knit group of loyal friends and associates and starts a gang with eventually all his friends controlling 30 people under each of them.
He also enlists Walden, a young, brash, and adrenaline-driven individual who also proves to be rather useful and eventually, a solid friend.
Meanwhile, the unnamed protagonist falls in love with a beauty named Magda, who keeps unaware of his real doings and businesses, until later on, when she figures it out mostly on her own.
The business is booming and the gangster protagonist leads a quiet life of luxury, working from the background until the inevitable happens.
Walden’s drug use worsens, and so does his addiction to adrenaline and constantly increasing tendencies for making hasty, irrational, and dangerous decisions.
He does mess up, as was inevitable all along, and after a while of stable growth and development working under the last remaining top dog of the Warsaw mafia, Daniel, he goes against him.
Daniel asks the unnamed to take care of the problem that Walden poses and after a while searching for the coke-head, he finally finds him.
‘How I Became a Gangster’ ends with the protagonist, unable to go through with what’s necessary for his sustained growth as a gangster, trying to pull off one last heist, the results of which he still can’t outrun.
‘How I Became a Gangster’ ending explained
Who finds Crowbar Jr?
It’s Walden who manages to find Crowbar Jr at last. He’s determined to catch the slimy snitch ever since he eluded his boss after ganging up on him with several of his men and beating him up.
Crowbar Jr was also the one who had ratted out the rest of his crew when the unnamed protagonist was a corporal within the Pruszków mafia, under Magi.
While all others got long sentences, and the protagonist only got 18 months because he got lucky, Crowbar Jr was released not too late from prison because he ratted out others.
Upon his release, he approaches the protagonist, wishing to join him, but gets rejected. Following that, he calls in his men to gang up on his former crewmate, but when they fail to kill him, the gangster gets his crew to humiliate and brutalise each and every henchman of Crowbar Jr.
However, after a lot of searching, nobody can track him down, until Walden does. On the day of his wedding, the protagonist, along with all of his friends including Walden, kills Crowbar Jr.
Who kills Walden?
Walden was a victim of his own vices and hedonistic drive. After repeatedly being told by the protagonist, not to engage in hasty decision-making and to take it slow, take a vacation and kick back, Walden pays little heed.
He keeps vying for more adrenaline, striving for more risky endeavours, and beefing with people stronger than him, unprovoked.
It ultimately catches up to him, and a heist gone wrong leads his crew to engage in a shootout with police which results in two policemen dying and a kidnapping of a child.
Walden is the one who kidnaps the kid and later kills him so that nothing can be traced back to the protagonist or anyone else.
Daniel does everything quietly and from the backlines. He doesn’t want all the noisy gangsters ruining his operations, so he demands that the protagonist takes care of his gang.
Walden doesn’t like that one bit and since he’s already been wanting to kill Daniel, so that he and the protagonist can be the top dogs, he begins hunting Daniel and failing to kill him.
The protagonist takes the responsibility to see to the Walden problem himself, and eventually finds him. However, he can’t go through with killing his best friend, and stages his death, while injecting him with a sedative.
Meanwhile, he ruins Daniel’s shipment of drugs, taking bags and bags full of cocaine for his own crew and fleeing with it.
Aboard a ferry with Magda, Walden, and his partner, the protagonist leaves for overseas, away from the Polish life of crime. However, when Walden gains consciousness, he reckons with all that he’s done and the fact that he still has to pay for all that he’s done.
At the end of ‘How I Became a Gangster’, Walden reveals to the protagonist that he killed the child after his kidnapping and also that he must pay for what he’s done. He then kills himself with the protagonist’s gun, leaving the latter and his partner to grieve the death.
What happens to the protagonist?
The protagonist gives himself up at the end of ‘How I Became a Gangster’, facing a long prison time. He’s visibly older now, as is his wife Magda, and they have a young son too.
It is revealed that the voiceover for the entirety of the film is the protagonist narrating his life as a criminal to his teenage son.
After telling his life story to his son, the protagonist impresses upon him the moral of it all, and it is to follow the rules of regulations and not go the way he went.
There’s a mid-credits scene in ‘How I Became a Gangster’, and it contains a point-of-view shot of who can only be the protagonist, coming out of the prison gate.