‘Dead Shot’ Ending, Explained: What Happens To Michael And Tempest?


The new British action thriller film Dead Shot goes to great lengths to recreate the time of the Troubles, when the Irish ethno-nationalist conflict spilled over to the British mainland. The film is centered around an Irish ex-paramilitary soldier, Michael, who reaches London to seek revenge after his pregnant wife is shot dead by the British Army. Packed with violence and bloodshed, this story has enough drama as well, which arguably does eventually spill over to the extremes. However, the script and the visuals make up for the drama, and even if the ending might not satisfy all, Dead Shot is great to watch overall.

Spoilers Alert

‘Dead Shot’ Plot Summary: What Happens In The Film?

Dead Shot begins with protagonist Michael O’Hara driving home in the Irish countryside at the break of dawn. The reason for this return is that his pregnant wife, Carol, is very close to giving birth and needs to be rushed to the hospital. Carol is extremely happy to see Michael, almost as if she feared he would not come, but is then confused to see a pistol with her husband. Michael promises that it is only to ensure their safety, and he assures Carol that he has dropped all contact with someone named Keenan. It is evident from their brief conversation that Keenan was a sort of bad influence on Michael, and Carol did not like the said man either. Finally united in a time of need, the loving couple begins their journey through the countryside toward the hospital. What they do not know is that two snipers had been holed up in the bushes by their house, reporting to someone else about Michael carrying the gun in his car and their movement.

Sometime during their drive, Michael suddenly sees an unusually broken branch on a tree and quickly realizes that an armored vehicle must have passed through there. Despite not wanting to, Michael listens to Carol’s advice and gets out of the car to hide in the woods, leaving his wife behind. Right about then, an armored vehicle of the British Army approaches the car, and a group of soldiers rush in. As Michael watches on with horrible grief, one of the soldiers shoots Carol dead. Running into the woods to protect himself, Michael decides to change his earlier plan and pick up arms against the British once again.

A member of the Irish Republican Army until some time before the events of this day, Michael had quit the paramilitary force to be a loving husband and father. Now he gets back in touch with Keenan, a leader of the IRA, and learns that the soldier who shot Carol dead is now in London. Determined to single-handedly avenge his wife and stillborn child’s deaths, Michael O’Hara heads over to London in the 1970s to find the soldier and kill him.

Why had Henry Tempest Shot Carol?

Dead Shot actually focuses on both sides of the conflict, with Michael O’Hara being an ex-member of the IRA who has now gone rogue and Henry Tempest being a soldier of the British Army. The film continues to follow both of these characters in almost equal measure, as both are important in telling the story that Dead Shot wants to tell. Soon after the shootout with Carol, Tempest has to face a disciplinary hearing from his supervisors since he essentially killed an unarmed pregnant woman. Tempest had no intention to kill the woman, though, and neither did he carry any vengeance against the family for being Republicans. When Tempest approached the abandoned car with his gun ready for action, he was of the belief that Michael O’Hara might be hiding inside. When Carol suddenly jumped up, possibly out of labor pain, Tempest perceived it as a threat to himself and the other soldiers, and in a split second, he fired his gun three times in response. The man admits during the temporary hearing that he mistakenly thought Carol might be armed and that the manner in which she had suddenly jumped up had spooked him. As a result of the shootout, in which an Irish civilian was killed, the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) sent over detectives to investigate the matter right away. The British Army’s presence in Ireland was legally restricted to that of just normal citizens unless stated otherwise by superiors. The SIB would surely investigate Tempest for the murder of an Irish woman, and Tempest would be imprisoned.

However, the soldier receives one last chance to save himself from such a situation. A senior member of, presumably, the British Army or British Intelligence was also present at the hearing, seated at the back and not talking in between. This man now asks to speak with Tempest alone and then offers the soldier a chance to work for him and avoid the SIB prosecution. This man, later revealed to be named Holland, was actually secretly putting together a team of sharpshooters to tackle IRA activity in London and covertly execute IRA members from the capital city. It is for this reason that Holland hires Tempest and also some other men later on, including Irish nationals as well. Not entirely knowing what he is being selected for, Tempest returns to London and reunites with his lover, Ruth.

Gradually, as Holland calls upon the services of Tempest, the soldier gets to understand what is expected of him. Together with a new team, Tempest is given the responsibility of clearing out an apartment where IRA members have been hiding. But unbeknownst to him, a woman had been secretly keeping an eye on Tempest ever since his return from Ireland. This woman, who is in direct contact with IRA leader Keenan, informs the IRA members in the London apartment about their imminent danger, and Tempest’s mission goes sideways. Either way, the man continues working for Holland and does not share much with Ruth about any of this or his unintentional murder in Ireland.

What Was Keenan’s Plan For Michael?

Keenan has been presented as an extremely cunning and manipulative man who prioritizes his own personal ideologies and benefits over the lives of his workers. When Michael first returns to meet with Keenan after the murder of Carol, the IRA leader is at work as the principal or teacher of a school. It becomes immediately clear that Keenan is not happy that Michael has left the IRA, and so he states that in exchange for any sort of help, Michael would first have to prove himself helpful to Keenan. Despite genuinely wanting to stay away from terrorist activities and knowing well that Keenan would be up to something like that, Michael agrees only to seek his revenge. Together with his best friend and veteran sniper, Twomey, Michael takes the ferry and reaches London, where the two stay with a group of radical IRA workers. Although Keenan cannot be contacted from here because the man is largely wanted by the British authorities, he does keep in touch with Michael through a young woman. This woman is the same one who was keeping an eye on Tempest, and she is regularly seen having discreet telephone conversations with Keenan.

The woman, who is revealed as Catherine, makes acquaintance with Michael and tells him that the IRA job that he is required to do involves carrying a box of bombs to Paddington station. Michael O’Hara initially does not pay much heed to this plan and instead prepares for his personal revenge. He finds out the name and location of Tempest from Catherine and follows Ruth one morning. He reaches a local market where Ruth runs a clothes stall, and taken over by the extreme desire to seek revenge, Michael is almost about to kill the woman. He stops himself right at the last minute, though, and flees from the scene. Better judgment prevails in Michael’s mind at this time, for he does not want to harm an innocent woman just because of the ills of her partner. After all, Michael’s wife, Carol, had been killed only because of her husband’s involvement in the IRA, while she had no involvement in political or paramilitary situations at all. Michael stops himself from committing a similar act and manages to escape the police with the help of Catherine.

Catherine now encourages the man to carry out the IRA plan, and Michael finally agrees. He still puts his faith in Keenan, believing that the man will ultimately lead him to Tempest. But Michael is also against harming innocent people in this context as well. When the bomb is being prepared inside a suitcase, he tells one of the radicals not to put any shrapnel inside, as he believes the bomb to be only a means of causing distraction and terror and not to harm anyone. When the plan is in full swing, and the suitcase has been placed outside Paddington station, Michael tells his men to detonate the bomb only after thirty minutes, after the building has been cleared. He then calls up the police and mentions that, as part of the IRA, he has fitted a bomb at Paddington, which will blow up in thirty minutes. Michael genuinely believes that blowing up an empty building and damaging the infrastructure would be enough to convey the IRA’s radical message. However, what he does not know is that the bombs are not supposed to be remotely detonated and are instead fitted with a timer. Within only a minute or two, the bomb explodes, causing injuries and some deaths as well. This was actually the real plan that Keenan had for Michael—the ex-paramilitary soldier was not just supposed to courier a bomb from one place to another, but he was intended to be part of a terrorist act in London. Knowing very well that he would not agree to such a plan, Keenan kept most of it secret from Michael.

How Were Keenan And Catherine Related?

During their phone conversations, which Catherine made from public booths all across London, it was evident that she and Keenan were quite close to each other. At the end of one such conversation, Catherine actually expresses her desire to see Keenan sometime soon. It is apparent from their words that the Catherine and Keenan are in some sort of relationship, and they seem to be a romantic couple. At present, when Michael takes shelter at Catherine’s apartment, both the characters are quite stunned and shocked at how the bombing plan has gone through. Keenan now makes a sudden appearance at the apartment and reveals to Michael what his real plan is. He even reveals that back in Ireland, the British Army got to know where Michael was only because Keenan had told the army about it. This was Keenan’s revenge against Michael having left his paramilitary group. Even now, instead of giving him details about Tempest, Keenan tells Michael about the next target he has to kill for the IRA. This target happens to be Holland, the leader of the covert team that was hunting the Republican Army. Keenan tells Michael about Holland’s identity as well, saying that after this mission, Tempest would be handed to him. When Michael and Catherine both disagree with the plan, Keenan hits both of them, and his pretensions of being a good-natured man are now completely gone.

After the man leaves, Michael comforts Catherine, believing that she is Keenan’s lover. However, the young woman then reveals that Keenan is not her lover but actually her father. Despite being an Irish nationalist, Keenan had fallen in love with an English woman in London and had even had a daughter with her. This daughter was Catherine, and after she had grown up into an adult, Keenan started to use her for IRA operations. But at present, Catherine realizes the extreme danger that she would be in around her violent father, and so she decides to take a ship to flee the country and cross the ocean to Boston. The woman tries to convince Michael to do the same, but he has a different plan now. By this time, Michael has fully understood that he has been played by the devilish Keenan, who has only made use of the protagonist’s grief and urge for vengeance. Michael walks out onto the street to find Keenan and then shoots the IRA leader dead.

‘Dead Shot’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Michael And Tempest?

What Michael O’Hara experiences is an outright disillusionment with the man who was once his political leader. Keenan had been simply seeing Michael as a pawn to use to get his own work done. On the other side, Henry Tempest also experiences a similar disillusionment with his leader, Holland. Tempest had been extremely concerned about Ruth’s safety ever since Michael had almost killed her at her shop. After interrogating one of the IRA members, Tempest and Holland find out more about the group’s activities, and the leader now orders Tempest to return to Ireland with the army and fight against the Republicans. The soldier asks to be a part of the O’Hara plan, as it has become personal by now, but Holland does not agree. Earlier, Holland had also been quite condescending, or at least patronizing, toward Tempest and the rest of the men working under him. This is a point that Dead Shot wants to make about how the leaders of any organization or army are often very distant from their foot soldiers, and these higher authorities want to maintain such hierarchies very willingly. Henry Tempest also now flouts orders and goes out on a personal revenge plot to find and take down Michael.

Tempest tracks down Catherine’s apartment and takes the woman hostage, ordering her to lead him to Michael. Catherine has no option but to take the soldier down to the beach, where she and Michael are supposed to board the ship. Waiting for his arch-enemy to arrive, Tempest takes cover, ready to shoot, but Catherine uses this opportunity to get out of her car and warn Michael of the danger awaiting him. A chase follows, with Michael running towards the sea and Tempest chasing him and often firing his gun. When Tempest finally catches up to Michael, though, the latter has been shot and is fatally wounded. A final confrontation between the two takes place, in which Tempest tearfully apologizes for having killed Carol, but Michael’s response is that he holds himself responsible for having killed his pregnant wife. Ever since realizing the corrupt and brutal nature of Keenan, Michael had started to feel that it was his involvement in the IRA activities that eventually got Carol killed. Both men realize the futility of the war they have been fighting for so long, and Michael O’Hara falls dead on the sand.

Catherine successfully boards the ship and escapes from the country, leaving behind the war, which would have taken her life soon as well. A few months pass, and Tempest is seen with his partner, Ruth, who had forgiven him after earlier having a fallout when she got to know about the extent of Tempest’s involvement with the British Army. Ruth is pregnant at present, and the film seems to be ending on a positive note, at least on one side. However, as Tempest walks out onto the open street, he is suddenly shot dead by a sniper, who turns out to be Michael O’Hara’s best friend, Twomey. Dead Shot ends with a reminder of the grim reality of war and conflict, which does not let old matters rest and instead gives rise to more vengeance.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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