Bone Cold Ending, Explained: What is the Target? Is it Real?

Written and directed by Billy Hanson, ‘Bone Cold’ is a psychological thriller of 2023 featuring Jonathan Stoddard, Matt Munroe, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Jennifer Khoe, Shaan Sharma, Elise Greene, and more. The movie chronicles the story of Jon Bryant, a skilled military sniper who’s sent to a remote location to take out a highly value target, running his own private militia. However, things take a dark turn when his superior refuses to exfil him until he completes the mission, disregarding the pleas for depleting supplies and injuries. 

The movie explores the psychological toll that military service takes on soldiers. It highlights the pressure they face, being constantly told to follow orders without necessarily considering the consequences for the person pulling the trigger. ‘Bone Cold’ underscores the mental and emotional challenges that soldiers can grapple with as they navigate the complex and often morally ambiguous landscape of war. If you’re curious to see what challenges Jon faces in his mission, here’s everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Bone Cold.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Bone Cold Plot Synopsis

The movie begins in Pekha Valley, Pakistan, and we see Jon Bryant (Jonathan Stoddard), a sniper on a mission to take out some high-value targets alongside his tracker, Marco (Matt Munroe). Jon is married to Mel (Jennifer Khoe), and the duo also shares a daughter, Wendy (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss). Jon returns home from Pakistan but, for some reason, is still having visions of the man he shot in Pakistan. However, he tries convincing himself that he is just following orders and taking out terrorists, looking to wreak havoc. Jon’s wife, Mel, asks him about work, but Jon rarely shares anything, stating he needs to keep his private and professional life separate.  

Jon receives a call from Nathan Bernham (Shaan Sharma), who cancels his holiday for a highly classified and important mission. At the briefing, Bernham informs both Marco and Jon that they’re to travel to Northeast Ukraine. The Russian separatists there have mostly surrendered to the army, but the war is still far from over. Their target is Fyodor Burlick, leader of a newly-found Militia stemming from the remnants of war. Marco and Jon need to take out Fyodor and exfil. The catch is that there are no ground troops in the area, leaving Marco and Jon on their own. However, it appears that Bernham isn’t telling them everything. 

Jon and Marco land in the area and start making the trek towards their target. The duo also plants some trip mines for their smooth exfil. Things take a dark turn when Jon notices a dark figure behind the trees. Marco goes to check but surprisingly can’t even find any footmarks. The duo arrive at their target location and begin scanning the area for hostility. Jon and Marco take a high ground to ID their targets. A few hours later, the target walks out of the house to gather some wood for the fire. Jon takes the shot, and the duo immediately leaves for exfil. 

However, according to the eyes above, the target is still alive, hinting that they’ve shot someone else. Eagle 6 orders them to stay at the site until further orders. A few hours later, Jon and Marco decide to head back to the target location to look for any hostile activities. They check the house and find it to be completely empty. They also find a wallet, proving that they’ve shot the wrong man. They also relay that the house showed no evidence of Militia activity. Sveta (Elise Greene) and her men arrive at the cottage and find Pavel’s lifeless body lying outside the cottage, leading Marco and Jon to flee.

Things turn interesting when Jon begins hearing some kind of shriek. However, for some reason, the sound appears to miss Marco’s ears. Jon once again notices the dark figure in the woods. Jon takes the shot, unknowingly leading Sveta and his men towards himself. Eagle 6 advises them to only fire when fired upon. The duo swiftly manages to take two of the hostiles down. Sveta shoots Marco, but the latter survives the hit thanks to the armor. Sveta is also an exceptional sniper, much more accurate and skilled than Jon. Her ability to land an accurate shot from a considerable distance lends weight to this theory. 

The situation escalates when Eagle 6 refuses to exfil them unless they take out all the targets in the area. The reason is that they can’t risk being seen in the area. Marco tries to take a peak and barely escapes with his life. Unfortunately, he catches some shrapnel on his face. Jon assures Marco that he’ll be able to make the sniper’s location if she fires one more time. Jon asks Marco to pop smoke in both directions and make a run for it when it gets thick. Sveta will try to shoot and will give away her location. Sveta fires on Marco and gives away her position. Jon doesn’t miss the opportunity and wounds her.

The duo contacts Eagle 6, requesting exfil, but are given new sets of orders. Eagle 6 informs them that Fyodor Burick is heading to a small training compound five clicks from their location. Jon tries informing them about the things he has been seeing in the woods. Marco stops him, claiming the army is going to expel them and put them through rigorous psych evaluation. The duo decides to take some rest but are woken by haunting shrieks piercing the night. Something drags Marco deeper into the woods, but fortunately, Marco survives by stabbing the creature. Marco apologizes to Jon for not trusting his claims and calling him crazy. 

Bone Cold Ending Explained: Does Jon Kill the Target?

Marco and Jon are running out of supplies and request Eagle 6 for exfil. Unfortunately, Eagle 6 once again denies their request, claiming they can’t get them out unless they take out the target. With no choice left, the duo continues their trek to the North and arrives at the compound. The compound is littered with heavily armed hostiles. Jon takes aim and opens fire on the soldiers and Fyodor. Unfortunately, Fyodor only suffers a non-fatal wound. Marco advises Jon to fire on Fyodor, but Jon asks for another PID (positive identification). 

However, before Jon can receive confirmation, Marco shoots and kills Fyodor. Savet arrives and shoots Marco in the neck. Marco tries to drag himself to cover the same strange black figure appears and decapitates his head. Jon tries to confront the figure by filling it up with lead. Unfortunately, the creature attacks and rips open his chest. Then, the creature takes his form and calls for an exfil. Jon returns to his base and, following a psych evaluation, is promised a medal. Unfortunately, Jon can’t shake the horrors of his last mission. He starts having visions of Wendy and Mel being shot and whatnot. He even mistakenly fires a gun in the house. 

Jon visits Bernham and asks him why he submitted a report explaining another target’s death as a team error but not bad intel. Bernham replies that it was necessary to flush out the real target. Back at home, Jon once again sees the black creature and asks his family to get out. Mel leads Wendy into the car and goes in to check on Jon, who has been shooting blindly. He even accidentally takes aim at Mel, but the bullet misses its mark. Jon loses control and tries killing himself, but Mel steps in and stops him from pulling the trigger. Mel assures Jon that no matter what it is, they’ll get through it together. The movie ends with Jon looking outside the window, getting ready to put his daughter to sleep.

Was the Creature Real?

Jon has been serving in the military for years as a sniper alongside Marco. He had taken out scores of targets from all over the world, including Pakistan and Ukraine. However, following his last mission in Pekha Valley, he started having serious doubts about the targets he was taking down. He began seeing dead people in his dreams and also conveyed the same to his tracker, Marco. It’s possible that the creature wasn’t real but a figment of Ron’s imagination. Perhaps the monster was only a manifestation of the evil that Jon felt deep inside himself. 

Throughout the movie, we see Jon asking Eagle 6 multiple times about the target’s real identity to ensure that he doesn’t shoot the wrong man. Unfortunately, his superior makes him shoot an innocent man to flush out Fyodor. So, it’s possible that Jon was having some psychological issues, and the creature was nothing but his imagination. This is why Mel couldn’t see the creature but Jon. But what about Marco? Wasn’t he killed by the creature itself? No, it’s possible that Marco was shot by one of the guards, not killed by the creature, and Jon interpreted it as the creature’ doing.

Read more: Best Psychological Thriller Movies of All Time