‘Breathe’ 2024 Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Do Maya And Zora Survive The Apocalypse?

What’s an apocalypse movie if it’s not a bad one? I bet that’s what Stefon Bristol thought when he decided to make Breathe. The makers of this film really used an orange tint to convince the viewers that the oxygen levels have dropped on earth. Am I just ranting still? The premise had enough potential, if only the actors who signed up for it had a better script to work with.


Spoilers Ahead

What happens in the movie?

Earth is past doomsday, and the lack of oxygen has made the planet completely uninhabitable. Plant life is non-existent, and it’s hell out there. I’d imagine the sky to be dark due to the lack of oxygen, but never-mind. Darius is a former engineer and a survivalist. Fearing that the day will come when the earth will run out of oxygen, he built a bunker in Brooklyn with a functioning oxygen generator and enough supplies to comfortably accommodate his family. Darius’ father dies in an unfortunate accident, and he wishes to bury him alongside his mother. Darius leaves his wife, Maya, and daughter, Zora, behind and doesn’t return. Zora assumes her father is dead too, and the mother and daughter don’t always coexist in peace. They have their fair share of troubles between them, but they also try to make the best of what they have, considering they might be the last people on earth. Their seemingly normal life in the middle of an apocalypse takes a blow when three other survivors show up at their doorstep. 


Where did Tess and Lucas come from?

Equipped with guns and all sorts of tools, Tess and Lucas are looking for Darius. When they see Zora and her mother running back to their shelter, Tess begs for help. Tess tells Maya she knew her husband, and they were colleagues. They’ve come from a shelter in Philadelphia, and it’s taken them three days of walking to get here. Their oxygen generator has stopped working, and it can only be fixed if she takes a look at Darius’ generator and replicates the machine. Tess also tells Maya that there are more than twenty people, including nine children, in the shelter who’d lose their lives if they don’t come back with a solution. Zora convinces her mother to give them a chance to survive, and despite Maya’s doubts, she walks out of the bunker and makes Tess and Lucas tie each other up. Just when Tess is about to enter the bunker, their lookout Micah charges at Maya with a gun, and Maya fires at him and takes him in. Tess is left outside, and Maya won’t trust her again. 

How does Tess manage to get Maya out of the bunker?

Tess refuses to back down and lets Lucas use his drilling machine to penetrate the gates of the bunker. But Zora’s quick thinking comes in handy, and she uses a flashlight and copper wire to damage their drill. Micah keeps begging them to let his friends in, but it’s of no use. Tess, however, finds her way to the roof and starts to inject carbon dioxide into their oxygen generator. Not too long ago, before this, Zora was boasting about how this place is impenetrable. I’d disagree and say it’s pretty dumb to leave an open chimney and let outsiders mess with the air your life depends on. Back to the discussion, due to this situation, Maya is forced out of the bunker, and after a shootout between the two parties, Nora eventually gets hold of Maya and takes her hostage. During this exchange, Lucas breaks Maya’s leg, and Tess tries to use Maya to get Zora to open the door. But Micah had already let himself free and tied Zora up, and he collapsed on the ground before he could figure out how to open the door. The bullet wound was deep, and Micah had made a poor decision, underestimating the impact of it. 


Can Tess enter the bunker?

After finding out Zora can’t open the door, Tess asks Maya if there’s any other way they can do it. Maya remembers Darius having a keycard, which can be used to access the bunker. Maya takes the solar-powered car out to go to her husband’s resting place, while Tess joins her and asks Lucas to stay back. Maya knew that Darius was dead all along. She’d found a note in the car where he said that the generator wouldn’t produce enough oxygen for more than two people and hoped Zora could live and improve the generator someday. He sacrificed himself, and now his wife is on her way to see his dead body, months after his demise. The ladies do get their hands on the card, but the car runs out of power. Tess and Maya both point their guns at each other, but Tess makes Maya realize that they will never make it back if she’s limping all the way. Tess is Maya’s best chance at saving Zora, and she lets her go. 

How does Tess die?

Tess makes it back to the bunker on a bicycle. Lucas and Tess finally get inside, and Zora is devastated to see her mother isn’t with them. Tess promises Zora that she’ll just refill her oxygen tanks and get Maya back, but Lucas wants Tess to check the generator first. Tess figures that it’s impossible to replicate the device, and she never knew Darius to begin with. She overheard radio transmissions Zora used to check on her dad and confirm if he’s alive or not. Tess admits that, realistically, it’d take weeks to make this device, and even if she does, it’s only going to support two people. Lucas kills Tess as soon as she says this, and now there’s only Zora and him left inside the bunker. Lucas is pretty much what you expect a man to be—a man who wears a Philly jersey and has very little empathy or sense. While people he cared about were about to die in a few days, he chooses to put his intellect to other uses. He’s made up his mind that he’s going to survive, and he holds no responsibility for the people who are on the verge of death back in Philadelphia. 


How do Maya and Zora survive the apocalypse?

Maya opened her eyes the next morning to see her tank still having enough oxygen to survive a few hours. She also notices a miracle in an apocalyptic world: a small plant growing in the lifeless soil. The sunlight powers up her car, and she gets back to the bunker. Meanwhile, inside the bunker, the power goes out, and Lucas sends Zora out to fix the problem. He only gives her ten minutes of oxygen, making sure she won’t pull any moves of her own. Maya and Zora reunite, and they plot to throw Lucas out of the bunker. Lucas doesn’t let Zora in, and Maya watches it all unfold. She exchanges her mask with Zora, and Zora plays dead outside. Lucas comes to check on her supposed dead body, and Maya fires multiple shots at him. Lucas’ gas mask is compromised by a bullet, but he still follows them. Zora and Maya make it inside the bunker again, but Lucas forces his way in. He holds Zora and Maya at gunpoint, asking for oxygen. But the bunker’s support system has already been compromised, and it’s filled with just hydrogen. Maya warns Lucas that if he shoots at them, everything will be reduced to ashes and cinders. Both of them run out of the bunker, seeing no other choice left. Lucas gives up and shoots at the mirror, looking at himself just before the bunker explodes. Maya and Zora make it to Philadelphia, and the people of the shelter rescue them. Maya opens her eyes once again to see people living under the subway. Zora used her father’s ideas to fix their oxygen generator, and now both of them have a big family in a world that seems beyond saving. 

Breathe is completely devoid of logic or even surface-level research at times. The dynamic between Maya and Zora feels off up until the climax, and Tess is probably the only character who leaves any impact on the viewers. The back and forth between the characters for survival is realistic; I’ll give them that. Humans are always worse than animals, and in a survival scenario, there’s no way you could trust another human. Maya’s being skeptical about the new people is justified, and she’s only proven right all along. Zora, being a 16-year-old, does right by Darius’ ambitions for her. A happy ending for a snowflake apocalyptic movie makes sense, and I’m not complaining one bit; that’s all I’ve done all this while, innit? 


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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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