The Vault (2021) Ending, Explained

Great things from small things come. That is the moral of the story of Jaume Balaguero’s bilingual heist thriller ‘The Vault’ (alternatively titled: ‘Way Down’). Although cracking the puzzle of the titular vault requires some weight, the movie is itself a lighthearted affair, infused with a remarkable celebratory spirit. The taut and suspenseful story centers on a group of salvagers who try to hack into the world’s most secure vault. In a happy coincidence, their operation gets aid from Spain’s road to victory in the 2010 World Cup.

So, it’s no surprise that the heist gets some more oxygen as the World Cup final extends beyond regular time, and in the end, a last-minute goal by Andres Iniesta saves the day for Spain as well as for the protagonists. Performed by Liam Cunningham and Freddie Highmore and imbued with high-voltage energy, this movie would make your family weekend a success. The ending brings the story to a destined close while keeping avenues open for further exploration. While it is enough to put a smile on your face, if you need further explanation of the story, let us break it down. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Vault Plot Synopsis

Walter Moreland, the owner of salvage company Atlantic Group, is a modern-day pirate. With his able team, Walter retrieves a crate from the bottom of the ocean. The crate supposedly belonged to naval explorer, Sir Francis Drake, in which he hid three coins. The coins form parts of a bigger puzzle, as they have the coordinates for another larger treasure trove, which Drake kept hidden from the British crown.

Walter wants to get his hands on the treasure, but that does not happen, thanks to the intervention of the Spanish government, who think Walter’s operation to be piracy. Thom is a prodigious youth fresh out of college and already on the radar of big companies. He declines an offer, but when Walter reaches out to him for an impossible job, Thom finds himself unable to resist the temptation. The crate of Francis Drake is kept in the world’s most secure locker in the Bank of Spain.

Apart from the heavy security and CCTV surveillance, the vault contains state-of-the-art fail-safe technology to deter the most genius of criminals. Walter teams up with his daughterly trickster Lorraine, old associates James and Simon, computer wizard Klaus and, lastly, mastermind Thom to get a crack at the safe. Their operation coincides with Spain’s ascension to victory in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. In the end, Thom’s genius and Lorraine’s sleigh of hand save the day, but the story does not really end here.

The Vault Ending: How Does Thom Hack the Fail-Safe?

When the Spanish government usurps the treasure discovered by Walter, he gathers a specialist team to tackle the situation. The treasure of Drake is now kept secure in the seemingly impenetrable vault of the Bank of Spain. In the first phase of the mission, they hack the cameras, retrieve the keys to the vault, and scan the location to find any traces of vulnerability. Despite being constructed in an archaic era, the safe seems secure from all sides.

The scan shows that the vault has an underground chamber and a blurry region just above it. Thom deduces the blurry area to be a water tank. The fail-safe is simple and yet quite effective. Upon the breach of the vault, the water tank that sits atop the vault releases water. The perpetrators then get trapped in a chamber underneath the vault. But how does the mechanism detect a potential breach? Thankfully, Thom has the answer to this puzzle as well.

The vault, it seems, is a giant scaling machine, and whenever it detects extra weight, the fail-safe mechanism is triggered. The act of duping the mechanism is, however, a lot more difficult. After days’ thinking, Thom finds a way to bypass the fail-safe. The answer lies in liquid nitrogen. The scaling machine would sense weight no matter what because it is invented to weigh things.

However, Thom thinks, what if one suspends the scaling machine in equilibrium? Liquid nitrogen helps to restrict the atomic movements of metal further, and thus, it fails to detect the weight. Thom’s theory is a bit far-fetched, according to James. But as Walter puts his trust in Thom, they move forward with the plan to freeze the scaling mechanism of the vault. And it works, indeed.

How Do Lorraine and Thom Escape the Vault?

Following Thom’s method, James, Thom, and Lorraine break into the vault. Initially, the method does not seem to work, but liquid nitrogen creates its magic shortly after. The floor freezes, but it would not remain in the same state forever. The team rushes to retrieve the coins, but Gustavo’s formidable head of security is already on them.

Walter asks them to abort the mission and surrender before the security forces. But in the meantime, James turns against the team, and we get to know that he is a covert agent working for the British intelligence. As the effect of the nitrogen wanes, the fail-safe system activates, seemingly spilling a gush of water on the plan. James knows how to swim against the stream, and he safely escapes the vault.

Lorraine and Thom fight against the ticking clock while the vault is filling to the brim. But Thom ideates that putting enough weight on the scale would con the mechanism into thinking that the water has reached the vault’s ceiling. Thom directs Simon to put all the emptied nitrogen cylinders on the weighing scale, and Simon does as asked. When the cumulative weights of the cylinders do not suffice, Simon hops on the machine. Even that is seemingly not enough to stop water flow, and Thom and Lorraine are almost drowned. Simon is out of objects, but then he looks at the radio. In the end, Simon’s radio makes the weight even, and the protagonists are saved.

Where Is the Treasure of Sir Francis Drake?

It seems that everyone wants a piece of Sir Francis Drake’s treasure. Three pieces, to be exact, are the three coins that lie in the chest that Walter finds at the beginning of the story. These three coins, together, give the coordinates of Drake’s treasure trove. As history goes, Drake, a famous naval explorer working for the English monarchy, came upon a hefty bounty.

He was a firm believer in “finders keepers” and thus chose to hide the treasure instead of handing it over to the queen like a patriotic goody-two-shoes. After seemingly stealing the coins from the vault, James takes them to his superior agent and Walter’s old friend Margaret. They take the coins to an archaeologist, who deduces the treasure’s location to be under the Eiffel Tower!

But the audience remembers Margaret regretting that Walter never visited the Eiffel Tower in her frequent trips to Paris. As it turns out, Walter anticipates James’ double-timing and makes a viable replica of the coins. In a hilarious turn of events, Walter goes to the same specialist for the job whom Margaret and James visit later.

In actuality, the treasure lies somewhere in the Bank of London. Thom can return home safe after the adventure, but another heist awaits in his home country. It seems that we cannot avoid the possibility of a sequel that runs parallel with the 2012 London Olympics. There’s more fun and high-stake crime brewing in the distance, and we say amen.

Read More: Is The Vault Based on a True Story?