‘5lbs Of Pressure’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Does Eli Kill Mike And Adam?

Phil Allocco’s crime-drama 5lbs of Pressure is a gritty spectacle of the world of crime in America. It shows the lives of people living on this side of the moral spectrum, dealing with adversities and personal demons. Through its narrative, 5lbs of Pressure brings our attention to what makes people commit crimes in the first place. It’s not like these people wake up one day and set themselves on this path of violence. Rather, in pursuit of greater meaning, their lives end up being meaningless. That is something the movie shows about them on a very microscopic level. Maybe the reason why our morbid world works the way that it does is because of this collective lack of context that we fail to try and learn. Your fellow person, perhaps, in a slightly better circumstance, wouldn’t want to rob you or peddle drugs. However, people of privilege made the world a constant battle between different perspectives, which we consume with our morning breakfast from within the safety of our living rooms. But, the way I see it, we built a society to prevent this from happening, and then we proceeded to fail the very tenets of why we felt the need to build a society in the first place. If pain is supposed to be universal, how did we even run out of emotional understanding? I think 5lbs of Pressure presents itself as a case study for the portrayal of the rampant criminal world in America. 

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The narrative follows multiple characters as they deal with their own demons. Some come to terms with their actions and seek redemption. Some keep sinking further into this spiral of lies and deceit until it completely consumes them. While some embrace their inner demons like old friends and pull more people into this endless cycle. 

Spoilers Ahead

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Who Is Adam?

Adam DeSalvo is an ex-convict who recently finished his 16-year-long sentence and is out on parole. To fulfill the conditions of his parole, he finds himself a job as a bartender and moves in with his friend Jabar. Adam has not been in contact with his wife for all these years, and he hasn’t even seen his child’s face. After he does find his wife, she turns him down aggressively, blaming him for walking out on her and their son. She even prevents him from meeting his son, but Adam is resolute about finding his son anyway. Meanwhile, Eli, the younger brother of the man Adam had killed, finds out from his mother that Adam has been released, which causes a fair amount of discontentment in Eli. Adam wants to make a fresh start but has nowhere to go except his home turf, where he grew up. As a recovering drug addict, he is quite adamant about starting a new life away from drugs and violence, but it’s not easy given where he lives. 


Who Is Mike?

Mike is another one of the protagonists this story revolves around. Like Adam, Mike is also a victim of the society he’s a part of. As a wannabe musician, he finds himself struggling to kickstart his band with his friend Eli, but because of his ways, becoming a musician is only a pipe dream. It isn’t his choice to continue being a lowlife; however, he is coerced into this line of business because of his uncle, Leff. Leff had promised his mother that he would take care of Mike before she died. However, Leff is quite verbally and emotionally abusive to Mike, finding his nephew a bit too naive for this world. Having known only this kind of life, he ends up being quite harsh, even though Leff wants the best for his nephew. Mike assists his uncle with his drug and weapons business, often being given new assignments to learn the trade in this cutthroat world. What Mike really wants is to make enough money and leave for Austin, Texas, to make a fresh start and start his music career. 

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Who Is Eli?

Eli is a young man living in Manhattan. His older brother was killed by Adam 16 years ago. His resentment towards the man is rekindled when he hears the news of his release. Although at first he believes thinking about Adam isn’t worth his time, as Eli’s world starts spiraling for various reasons, his rage begins to direct towards Adam. This frustration is particularly catalyzed by his relationship with his girlfriend, who breaks up with him because of his own misbehavior. He is friends with Mike, with whom he plays the bass in his band; however, other than endless planning, they have not done anything about it. They also indulge in doing cocaine together, even dealing drugs together on some occasions. 


How Does Adam Reconnect With His Son?

Despite his ex-wife Donna’s disapproval, Adam is adamant about finding his son, Jimmy. He seeks assistance from Jabar, his friend, who says that he hasn’t seen the kid in years but might know where he hangs out. In search of his son, Jabar leads him to a basketball court, where he actually spots his son. Seeing his son for the first time, he engages in a game of basketball but hesitates to reveal his identity. After a brawl breaks out between Jimmy and another player, Adam mediates but ends up getting punched in the face. A changed man, Adam seeks a peaceful resolution and walks out. When Jimmy asks him about why he stayed avoidant in that situation, Adam advises Jimmy to control his rage, which the kid dismisses mockingly. 

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Meeting his son for the first time, Adam rejoices. At his drug abuse support group meeting, he talks about Donna and Jimmy. Through the harsh 16 years of his sentence, and even when he developed a drug habit while in prison, the only thing that kept him going was the thought of his wife and son. The thought of reuniting with his family and eventually having his old life where he could make up to them for the lost time is what encourages him now. 

Adam meets his son a second time at the same park when Jimmy spots him sketching a couple sitting nearby. Fascinated by Adam’s art, Jimmy inquires about it. In an endearing moment between the two, Adam teaches his son to draw a caricature, which he used to draw a lot when he was young. Having never drawn anything before, Jimmy develops a new fascination for the art that he drew. Because of this moment, Jimmy eventually develops a budding talent for sketching. However, when his mother recognizes the art Jimmy drew, she confronts him and accuses her son of lying when he claims that he drew it by himself. Eventually, Donna explains that the man he met was his father but also lies to him so that Jimmy avoids Adam.

In another attempt to meet Jimmy, Adam is shot down by his son, who believes the claims his mother made and has turned bitter toward his father for walking out on him and his mother. Adam, however, is resolute in clearing up misunderstandings and explains what really happened all those years ago. 


What Does Eli Find Out About Lori?

Following his breakup with Lori, Eli had been suspecting that she was already seeing someone. Eli, like Mike and Adam, has a troubled past, but unlike the other two, he weaponizes his tragedies to justify his present wrongdoings. He had been self-centered and ignored the needs of his girlfriend the whole time, but attended to her only when Lori decided to walk away. It is easy for him to blame all of this on another person, which is why I feel he quickly jumps to the conclusion that she is already seeing someone. He discusses this with Mike, who tries to defend Lori from an objective perspective. However, one day, Eli abruptly shows up at Lori’s house. He enters her room, only to find Lori and Mike together. Infuriated, Eli hits Mike and leaves after Lori forces him to. Lori and Mike had been together for quite some time now and liked each other a lot, while Eli was unavailable to her. However, Mike, being too scared to tell his friend about him and Lori earlier, contributed to Eli’s outburst. 

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How Does Mike Plan To Get Out Of This Life?

Mike is tired of running errands for his uncle, apart from his frequent misbehavior and emotional abuse. Especially after falling out with Eli, he desperately needs a break. He plans to move to Austin with Lori, where they could make a fresh start without any judgments and focus on his music as well. To make his pipe dream a reality, he needs money. Being from the world he has been brought up in, the only way he knows to make money is through the vicious world of crime. He finds an opportunity with one of his uncle’s suppliers, Jamal, who suggests that he could pedal high-quality heroin and make a profit of 40 grand. He steals his uncle’s car and heads to E.R., a notorious dealer his uncle works with. Putting the car as collateral, he borrows the money from E.R. and heads back to Jamal. However, taking advantage of his naivety, Jamal’s men steal the money Mike borrowed from E.R. When he goes back to the dealer, E.R. threatens to blind him if he doesn’t return the money by morning. Left with no choice, Mike is forced to rob a convenience store. 


Why Does Eli Kill Mike And Adam?

After finding out about Lori and Mike, Eli is unable to control his rage anymore. To add to his misery, Eli’s mother ends up in the hospital because of heart failure after she sees her son’s killer on the street. Following this incident, Eli starts contemplating killing Adam to avenge his late brother. He even gets fired from his job because of anger issues. On the evening of his plan to kill Adam, first, he stalks Mike and Lori. Once Mike is alone, Eli beats him up and threatens him at gunpoint to stay away from Lori. He leaves after Mike begs for his life and heads towards Adam’s bar. Taking a seat in his bar, he feels conflicted. He blames this man for everything, even though it is Eli’s own fault for ruining his own life and losing his girlfriend. 

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Once Adam starts to close the bar for the night, Eli isolates him at gunpoint and confronts him about his brother’s death. Adam is apologetic and asks for mercy. He explains that he was just a kid when that happened, but Eli was not one to listen. Suddenly, Mike shows up at the bar, leading to a gunfight between the two friends. In the aftermath, Mike gets shot in the head and dies, while Eli gets shot in the leg. In a moment of redemption, Adam tries to help Eli. Realizing that Mike was already gone, he offers that he’ll make Eli the hero in the situation and frame Mike for an attempted robbery. Regardless of Adam’s attempt to help him, Eli shoots Adam dead. 

5lbs of Pressure‘ ending shows the gritty nature of how Adam, Eli, and Mike’s lives unfolded. Adam wanted redemption but found it in death. After his death, Adam was revered as a hero who died saving the bar from robbery. Eli was consumed by rage, which made his life even more meaningless in the end. He killed his best friend, and the man he wanted dead, ironically, gets celebrated as a hero instead. Moreover, the girl he loves moves away. Mike wanted out of this life, but his naivety got the best of him. He gets consumed by the vultures of his world.

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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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