South Korean filmmaker Jo Sung-hee’s (‘A Werewolf Boy’) ‘Space Sweepers’ or ‘Seungriho’ is an ambitious space opera movie that never lets you realize that it was made with a measly budget (US$21.2 million) compared to its Hollywood counterparts. The film is a visual spectacle that keeps its audience at the edge of their seats from start to finish. It’s a real pity that ‘Space Sweepers’ is not getting a theatrical release because cinema halls and multiplexes exist for movies like these.
The setting is the year 2092. Earth has become nearly uninhabitable. A chosen section of the population gets to reside in a utopian second home in the orbits while the rest of humanity either wait for a slow death on Earth or work as part of scavenging crews that retrieve deadly space debris. The story centers around one such crew and how their lives suddenly change when they find a mysterious little girl while fixing their ship after yet another life-threatening day at work. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Space Sweepers.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.
Space Sweepers Plot Synopsis
In this bleak and dystopic world, a multinational organization called UTS serves as a rare source of light. The company’s founder and CEO, James Sullivan (Richard Armitage), seems to believe that life as we know it is coming to an end on Earth. So, he has built a temporary home for a select group of people in the orbits, with the plans to eventually make Mars habitable. They have already started cultivating life on that planet by using a super plant called Tree of Life. As Sullivan reveals to a group of reporters from Earth, UTS will soon announce the opening of a Mars colony.
Beyond this rosy picture, the reality is something different. UTS has been draining Earth’s wealth and resources while dumping radioactive materials on the planet. Furthermore, the company’s actions have caused many of the recent natural disasters. The film offers a glance at the background of each of its four main characters, two of who share history with Sullivan. Tae-ho (Song Joong-ki) is a former commander of the Space Guard who rebelled against Sullivan and quit because of his innate morality. He loses his adoptive daughter Su-ni in a massive space accident and has been trying to bring her back ever since.
Captain Jang (Kim Tae-ri) was part of an anti-UTS outfit and came very close to assassinating Sullivan. Tiger Park (Jin Seon-kyu) is a former drug lord who fled from Earth after being sentenced to death. Bubs (Yoo Hae-jin) is the only non-human member of the crew. A former military robot, she wants to get a skin-graft to look like a human female.
Space Sweepers Ending: Who Is Dorothy?
When this mismatched group of personalities meets Dorothy (Park Ye-rin) for the first time, they understandably believe the propaganda that UTS has been spreading about her. However, they eventually learn that she is not the bomb that UTS is saying she is. She is not even a robot. She is actually a human girl with state-of-the-art nanobots inside her.
After she was diagnosed with an incurable disease, her father (Kim Mu-yeol) injected her with the nanobots. It was soon discovered that they not just cured the disease but also gave her incredible powers, including the ability to grow plants. UTS used her to create the paradisical Mars that they show in their propaganda. There is no such thing as a super plant. It’s through Dorothy’s abilities alone that Mars has transformed into a tropical heaven.
According to UTS’s claims, a terrorist organization called the Black Fox has abducted Dorothy. In reality, the Black Fox is an environmental organization that is working closely with Dorothy’s father. Her real name is Kang Kot-nim. Just as the Black Fox members did before them, the crew realizes that Dorothy can potentially make Earth habitable again with her abilities.
How Do the Crew Members of the Victory Survive?
Secretly romantic, Captain Jang named her dilapidated ship the Victory. She and her crew discover that UTS has placed Kot-nim and a hydrogen bomb inside the workers’ station called the Factory. Sullivan plans to drop the Factory on Earth, knowing that the ensuing explosion will wipe out all people on the planet. The crew members manage to rescue Kot-nim and leave her with one of their scavenger friends. They then take the hydrogen bomb and try to put enough distance between the Victory and the Factory so that the former would not be inside the blast radius.
Sullivan tries to intercept them, wearing a mechanical combat suit. By the time he realizes that Kot-nim isn’t on the ship, it’s already too late. The bomb goes off, killing Sullivan. But fortunately for the crew, a god-like entity is watching over them. Kot-nim pulls them out of the blast radius just in time, saving their lives.
Is Kot-nim Going to Live with the Victory Crew Permanently?
UTS operatives killed Kot-nim’s father. The Victory crew members are the closest thing to a family she has now. So yes, she is going to live with them. With Kot-nim’s help, Tae-ho gets to speak to Su-ni for the final time. Su-ni is already out of human reach, but this conversation helps him find closure and move on with his life. Bubs has gotten the skin graft she wanted, while Tiger is not pursued by authorities any longer. The four of them are still scavengers, though their ship has evidently undergone several updates.
As for the Earth, the planet is healing with Kot-nim’s help. New plants are sprouting every day, and the animals are making a return. The film starts with so much pessimism about the human capacity of self-destruction but ends on an incredibly uplifting note.
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