‘Armageddon Time’ Ending, Explained: Why Does Paul Finally Decide To Become A Rebel? 

Coming of age is a genre that has always turned out good stories. Any story of a young person who decides to move forward in life, learning from their mistakes and hoping things will be different from here on because they choose to be like that. “Armageddon Time” is the tale of a young boy who grows up listening to stories from his grandfather about his family and how he navigates through being a young boy in school. Trying to understand the social environment he is living in and how to deal with it. The 1980s were a time in America when the cold war was at its peak, as was America’s war on drugs, and Reagan was becoming popular. It is interesting to know the social and political climate of America at that time when not everyone was a supporter of Ronald Reagan. Directed by James Gray, “Armageddon Time” stars Banks Repeta, Anthony Hopkins, Jaylin Webb, Anne Hathaway, and Jeremy Strong.


Spoilers Ahead

Paul Graff And His Family 

Paul Graff is the younger son of Esther and Irving Graff, members of a slightly privileged Jewish American family, who goes to public school, unlike his elder brother Ted, who attends a private school. Paul shows an inclination towards becoming an artist and spends a lot of time drawing sketches instead of being attentive in class. Paul is a typical pre-teen kid who believes he can dream of becoming someone that others don’t expect of him—a kid who would be a nonconformist and not follow the traditional rules of society. Paul is a good kid who is attached to his maternal grandfather, Aaron Rabinowitz, who believes Paul can very well follow his dream of becoming an artist and remains his confidante, well-wisher, and someone Paul can talk to whenever he is in trouble. Paul, being his favorite, makes sure he listens to his grandfather. Paul befriends Johnny Davis, who has repeated sixth-grade several times and is considered a nuisance by the class teacher. The class teacher is livid, for Paul drew a rather comical sketch of the class teacher, which immediately puts him in his bad books. Johnny and Paul get along for the love of music and are a little bit of a nuisance.


While Paul is from a privileged background, Johnny comes from a rather underprivileged background, lives with his sick grandmother, and usually does not have any money on him. Johnny keeps talking about his stepbrother, who is training to be a NASA pilot in Florida and who sends him stickers, which excites Paul because he is interested in learning about space science. Paul and Johnny get along because both want to be different from the usual batch of kids around them. They want to do different things in life and school and can’t wait to follow their dreams. Johnny plans to become an astronaut, while Paul dreams of becoming an artist. Paul’s parents, though, are not sure if they should be encouraging him to pursue painting because they come from an upbringing that believes in getting a job and bringing home a salary. Paul’s class is set to head for a class tour of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which Paul can afford, and he offers to pay for Johnny’s fee too. Johnny joins his class for the trip, but they cut the trip short as they decide to ditch their class and roam the city on their own. Johnny is confronted by people in his community for hanging out with Paul, which puts him in a bad mood and makes him ask Paul to head home on his own. Johnny is aware of the socio-political climate of the country; even though times are changing and blacks and whites are assimilating in American schools, the prejudice is still greater than the kids can imagine. POC are still discriminated against for their skin color, while the white population is usually untouched by authorities and the majority. Paul, though he is a child, notices the difference between how he is treated and how Johnny is treated by the school and society. Paul’s mother is a member of the PTA, which Paul flaunts around like a trump card, and she will soon be running for the District School Board.

‘Armageddon Time’ Ending Explained – Why Does Paul Finally Decide To Become A Rebel? 

Paul gets along with Johnny once again after their trip to the museum and decides to help him with his detention. Johnny and Paul head to the washroom, lighting up cannabis, not knowing it is an illegal drug, only to be caught by their class teacher. Paul faces expulsion, and his father ends up beating him up for smoking an illegal drug. Paul’s pain is palpable, and it is understood that his relationship with his parents is not as strong as his relationship with his grandfather Aaron. Erving is an “alpha male” father who resorts to beating him with a belt while his mother silently approves of it. Paul is traumatized by the turn of events caused by a mistake he made. His parents decided to send him off to a private school as a punishment and a way to discipline him. Paul refuses initially but succumbs to his parents’ pressure. Paul is also convinced by his grandfather Aaron that he needs to move to another school. Aaron also narrates the story of his family, who faced rampant anti–Semitic discrimination while in Ukraine, and because of this, Aaron’s mother had to move to England and eventually to New York with his father. Aaron is sensitive to his past and makes sure Paul understands that discrimination and anti-semitic talk are still going on in the country, and Paul should learn to fight no matter where he goes.


Out of sheer hesitation, Paul joins a private school, where he meets Fred Trump, one of the beneficiaries of the school, along with one of his biggest supporters. Fred asks Paul to uphold the tradition of the school from here on. Paul is surprised to know who Fred Trump is and what his family is known for. At the assembly, a speech by his daughter Maryanne Trump emphasized the need to be hardworking to become successful. Paul is initially carried away by the speech. As the day goes along, he meets Johnny just outside his school. Paul is slightly taken aback by Johnny showing up. He mentions he has stopped going to school, and while his grandmother is sick, he is also running from the authorities, which would put him in a foster home. Paul is confused if he should continue speaking to Johnny as his classmates keep looking at him. Once Johnny realizes Paul is uncomfortable around him, he walks away. Paul is at that age where he is not sure what would be right or wrong or whether getting into a social group would lead to him gaining acceptance. Paul is taken aback by the usage of the N-word by his classmates at his new school, referring to Johnny, but Paul is not sure whether to open up to them, shun them away, or agree with them just to feel validated. Paul meets his grandfather to test out his toy rocket and speaks to him about what to do when someone is being mean, discriminatory, or racist toward others. Aaron makes it clear that his parents and grandparents faced rampant racism while in Europe, and no one stood up for them, and Paul should know to stand up for the people he knows need his help. Paul should stand up against prejudice because antisemitic speech and racist bigotry still exist even though the world has evolved. Aaron soon loses his life to bone cancer, and Paul decides to stay by his grandfather’s side till the end. Paul, by the end of Aaron’s life, understands the importance of why racism should be dealt with and not be encouraged, especially amongst kids of his age. 

Paul notices Johnny sleeping inside the outhouse made by Paul’s father to stay out of sight of social services. Frustrated by his school and unable to help Johnny, Paul plans to steal his school computer. His idea is to sell it off to gain enough money to move to Florida with Johnny, where he could meet his stepbrother while Paul could pursue his dream of painting. As Paul steals the computer, Johnny decides to sell it at a pawn shop. The pawn shop owner informs the cops, and Johnny and Paul are arrested. Paul is in shock because his plan didn’t pan out the way he wanted it to. Paul is also perplexed to see why Johnny would take the blame for the robbery. Johnny knows he has no one or nowhere to go, but Paul has a future ahead with his family to look forward to. Johnny takes the blame, and the cop lets Paul go because Erving knew the cop from a previous business. Paul keeps wondering if Johnny can be rescued at all; he wants his friend back and wants his life to go back to normal. On the way back from jail, Erving quietly advises Paul that life is unfair for many, including them, but that does not mean one has to fight everyone’s battle out there. Johnny is a survivor, and he will find his way out. He also advises Paul to rebel, which is completely fine, but one has to live their own life, which is difficult as it is. Erving also mentions that since Aaron isn’t around to guide Paul, it is his duty to make sure Paul chooses the right path. Paul takes his father’s words to heart and realizes as a kid of his age, he cannot make much of a difference, but he can once he grows up. At the assembly in school, after the election results are out, Fred Trump makes a speech about adhering to American ideals, which Paul disagrees with, and walks out of the assembly silently as a mark of protest. Paul is at that age when he knows when to react, when not to, and when to cross the line. He keeps his father’s and grandfather’s words in his heart and decides to shape his life the way he wants to.


‘Armageddon Time’ Conclusion

“Armageddon Time” is a decent coming-of-age drama that throws light into the lives of American Jews living in the country through the 1980s, also known as the Reagan era. The prejudices against women, POC, Jews, and other immigrants were still strong, and plenty of them was learning to navigate through all of this to live a decent life. James Gray does a fair job of putting on the table and talking about existing racism against various communities, which should have been eradicated decades ago. “Armageddon Time” did not shy away from highlighting the plight of an independent working woman who puts in everything at work outside and must end up taking care of the house as well. It is refreshing, though, to see an example of a family that was not in favor of Reagan being elected as the next president of America. The underlying racist tendencies against POC, Jews, and other communities and how Paul imbibes the fact that it is wrong to treat people differently is the theme of the film. “Armageddon Time” takes time to establish the plot of the film, but when it does, the writer makes sure that the point is made and how. The performance of Banks Repeta is astonishingly good, especially in the emotional scenes. Anthony Hopkins and his chemistry with Banks Repeta as his grandson are something to watch out for. A coming-of-age drama is always something everyone looks forward to, and “Armageddon Time” had a stretched-out screenplay in the beginning, but the story became tight by the end of it. A good watch indeed.

“Armageddon Time” is a 2022 drama film directed by James Gray.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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