‘Awareness’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Is Ian The Only Perceiver Alive?


The sci-fi thriller film Awareness is centered around eighteen-year-old Ian, who is born with the ability to create realistic projections and mind control. Ian and his father, Vicente, always lived in hiding. They participated in small robberies, but Vicente made it a point to follow some rules. He knew it was dangerous for Ian out there, and he always warned his son not to use his power after a point. But Ian was tired of playing it safe, and one small distraction resulted in Ian unleashing his projection power to his full potential. Ian’s action caught the attention of the Agency. But it was not just the Agency that was after Ian; a man with similar powers was searching for the boy as well.

Spoiler Alert

Why did the Agency want to recruit Ian?

Men sent by the Agency captured Ian at the gaming arcade and brought him to the headquarters. Ian was kept in captivity, and he was questioned about his ability. The woman speaking on behalf of the Agency was Dr. Adriana, who was once part of the operation that created perceivers. Ian was a perceiver, and he was special because he was a naturally born perceiver. Ian’s parents were injected with a chemical formula developed by a scientist named Dr. Kominski, and from what it seemed, he did not share the composition of the formula with the Agency. The Agency wanted to extract the formula from Ian’s blood, but they soon realized that he did not have the chemical.

Ian learned from Adriana that he could also read minds, and that was how he found out that Vicente was not his father. He had kidnapped Ian from the Agency and kept him in hiding for eighteen years. Vicente was the only person Ian could trust blindly, yet he was the one who had been lying to him. Vicente tried to explain himself, but Ian could not trust him anymore. Adriana tried to inculcate that the Agency was Ian’s only hope. They needed Ian to stop a sinister group of people who called themselves “awareness.” They were a team of perceivers in control of global politics. They helped politicians create any illusion to fool the common people. The Agency wanted to destroy them for the sake of democracy. They initially assumed that with the formula found in Ian’s body, they would create more perceivers like him, but since he had inherited his powers from his perceiver parents, there was no trace of them in his blood. Meanwhile, one of the guards at the Agency, Esther, prompted Ian to plan an escape. Ian brought along Vicente with him, and they managed to run away from the agency headquarters. Ian wanted to find out more about his parents, especially his mother, and he knew Vicente’s memories could help him find out his truth.

What did Ian find in Warsaw?

Esther was working with the perceiver Ian had seen at the arcade, but he was unaware of it. Using his power to read minds, Ian once again entered the memories of Vicente. Vicente used to work at the Agency, and during his conversation with Adriana, Ian heard them speak about a person referred to as the “big boss,” and he saw a man draped in black with three chopped-off fingers seated inside a car. The memory did not answer all his questions, and it was the perceiver who planted clues in Ian’s mind and instructed him to travel to Warsaw, Poland, to find out the truth about his mother.

Vicente advised Ian to stay hidden just the way they used to live before if he wanted to avoid suffering, but Ian needed answers, and he refused to stop. After reaching Warsaw, Ian and Esther searched the location of the experiment, and it was Esther who guided him to the room where he used to spend all his time as a toddler. Ian had only one memory of his mother, in which she sang him a song and played with him. According to his memory, the room was meant to be bigger, and he was right. After breaking open a tile wall, Ian found stacks of important documents kept hidden. The documents showed that Ian’s mother, Urszula Kominski, was the daughter of scientist Kominski, making Ian his grandson. Soon, the perceiver, who had been following Ian all along, confronted him and disclosed that he was Ian’s father. He and Urszula were volunteers, and they were converted to perceivers in a secret program that was started in the 1950s, after World War II. The formula, once injected into their bodies, allowed them to create illusions and read minds, thereby making them the perfect spies during the Cold War.

The authorities decided to terminate the perceivers once the cold war ended, fearing that they would turn against the world, and thus began Operation Disinfection. While they were able to kill many perceivers, there was one that was beyond their reach. This perceiver was known as “The Mule,” and he had unleashed the third power, which resulted in the complete submission of the opponent. There was no winning with the Mule, and the Agency wanted to use Ian to fight against him. It was Mule who created the awareness group with other perceivers. Ian’s father also revealed that once the Agency recruited them, they were turned sterile. It was a miracle that Ian was born under such impossible circumstances. Ian refused to believe him, and the perceiver asked him to visit his house in Madrid, where he could find all the answers related to his mother.

What was Ian’s father’s motive?

Ian and Esther arrived at the perceiver’s house, and Ian found his mother in an unresponsive state. Ian’s father instructed him to communicate with his mother through his memory of her. His mother started to respond negatively when his father began interrupting the memory by showing Ian how she was tortured by the Agency. Urszula had destroyed the last copy of the formula, and the Agency inflicted pain on her to find out the composition. She did not wish for Ian to remember the hardship that she faced, and that is why she planted the comforting memory of her and her son playing together in a room. But the memory also had the formula encrypted in it, and Ian’s father wanted him to tell him the formula Urszula left in the memory. He promised Ian that they would avenge the Agency once they had the formula. But it became obvious to Ian that his mother fought hard to not allow anyone into the dream.

Soon, the agency army arrived, and Ian was fuming with a vengeance. He unleashed his third power and was able to take control of the minds of his opponents. Adriana repeatedly asked Ian not to trust the perceiver since his mother had died a long time ago. But Ian was not ready to believe a word, and that was when Vicente came to his rescue. Vicente wanted Ian to believe that he was being manipulated by the perceiver. Once the perceiver realized that Vicente could get to Ian, he took control of his mind and shot him in the face. Before dying, Vicente asked Ian to go through his memories to find out the truth for himself. Ian realized that his mother trusted Vicente and had asked him to run away with Ian. Vicente risked his life to raise Urszula’s son because she wanted him to live freely away from all conspiracies. Ian realized that the only person who deserved to be called his father was Vicente, and the perceiver killed him. 

During the ending, Ian goes after the perceiver, and the perceiver takes Esther hostage. After a mind-control showdown between the two, Adriana came to support Ian; after all, destroying the perceiver would be of advantage to her. When Adriana heard Ian talk about Esther, she stated that she could not see the perceiver holding any woman hostage. Esther was a projection that the perceiver played on a loop to be in constant contact with him. Initially, Ian struggled to comprehend it, but after thinking about the first time he met the perceiver, he realized that the perceiver had created the illusion of a human being from a poster at the arcade. Ian pulled the trigger and shot the perceiver dead. It was also confirmed that Esther was truly a projection. She continued to exist, and Ian enjoyed her presence. Since she, too, was initially controlled by the perceiver, she could, in a way, relate to Ian, but of course, she was not a real human being.

Is Ian The Only Perceiver Alive?

During Awareness‘ ending, Adriana once again offered Ian the opportunity to join the Agency, but he rejected it. He wanted to live in no man’s land, just like his father, Vicente, had always advised him. Ian and Esther continue to be in love, and the fact that Esther is a projection does not seem to bother Ian. Perhaps Esther became her own person when she fell in love with Ian and refused to cooperate with the perceiver. The ending of the film is crucial because it offers an important hint. Throughout the film, Adriana is in contact with an American man who is also after the formula. When Adriana failed to convince Ian to join the Agency, he advised her to kill him since Ian could become a potential threat. But Adriana believed that since Ian was no longer controlled by Vicente and the perceiver, it gave her a good opportunity to win his trust. She also added that if she did not succeed in convincing Ian, then she would make it a point to eliminate him.

While Adriana believed she was talking to the American, Ian, through his rearview mirror, noticed that there was no one beside Adriana. Therefore, the American seems to be another projection that is played on a loop in Adriana’s mind. The perceiver who claimed to be Ian’s father does not seem to be the Mule, going by the glimpses that we saw of the strongest perceiver. Maybe it is the Mule who is controlling Adriana to make sure that he gets the formula once she gets to Ian. But why would he want to get rid of Ian? Was he afraid of the potential of the naturally born perceiver? In a sci-fi film where mind control and projections happen at random, it is difficult to believe anything as the ultimate truth. The ending of Awareness also suggests that Ian might take control of Adriana’s mind to figure out who she was talking to. Awareness surely has the potential to return with a sequel that will center around the Mule, and hopefully, we will get to know more about Ian’s past.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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