‘Knox Goes Away’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: What Happens To John Knox?


Knox Goes Away is a new crime thriller film directed by actor Michael Keaton, who also takes on the role of the protagonist here and arguably does a better job at it. The plot is centered around an elderly man named John Knox, who has to retire from his dangerous life as a professional hitman because of a sudden serious ailment. Estranged from his ex-wife and son, Knox has no family until these old ties return one day, asking for help. Knox Goes Away presents the man’s efforts at helping out his family, all while preparing for his retirement, and the film makes for a mostly average watch.

Spoiler Alert

What is the film about?

Knox Goes Away with the protagonist, John Knox, leaving house for a dinner meet with a friend in the city, and forgetting his watch at home, only to shortly return and pick it up off the table, is an early sign of his unmindful behavior. Driving over to their usual restaurant, Knox meets with his good friend, Thomas Muncie, who also happens to be his colleague at his current job. John Knox is actually a professional hitman, appointed under a notorious criminal mobster named Xavier Crane. At the moment, the protagonist informs Muncie that he is going away for a short time on some personal business and wants the upcoming mission to be postponed a day. Although Muncie is a bit concerned, both because Knox does not usually take any personal leave and also because their boss, Xavier, will not take the matter very lightly, there is nothing he can do about it. Knox does not tell Muncie anything more about this sudden leave, and it is revealed the next day that the man is suffering from some serious health issues. 

Knox goes over to a nearby city to get himself checked by a neurologist, who is considered one of the best doctors in the area. The man has been forgetting things in recent times, particularly the words and names of everyday objects, which are really getting in the way of his life. As Knox goes through a series of MRI scans and other tests, he is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, which is a fatal degenerative brain disorder. According to the doctor, CJD is almost like Alzheimer’s, but worse, as it spreads much more rapidly, meaning that Knox only has a few weeks until his memory would be completely gone. The man returns home, starting to mentally prepare for retirement from his job, but does not tell anyone about his condition yet. After all, there is nobody in Knox’s life either, as he has no contact with his estranged ex-wife and son, and the only constant person in his life is Annie, a sex worker who regularly visits and spends time with him on a weekly basis, in exchange for regular payments. 

Soon, the time for Knox’s last mission comes, as he and Muncie are to go over to the house of their target, a notorious human trafficker, and kill him. Like on most of their missions, the two men split up as Muncie keeps a lookout on the outside and Knox sneaks in to commit the murder. However, Knox now suddenly feels disoriented because of his rapidly developing CJD, and in the heat of the moment, he ends up killing an innocent woman who was with the trafficker at the time. To make matters worse, Muncie comes in to check, and in his nervousness, Knox shoots once again, even before checking his target. Knox ends up killing Muncie mistakenly and then stages the scene to look like his partner had been killed by the trafficker. This inadvertently creates more pressure on Knox and his boss as the police start to dig into the profiles of the dead men found at the scene, and amidst all of this, Knox still has to figure out his plan for retirement. 

Why does Miles suddenly visit his father?

Knox’s initial planning for the future begins with visits to his accountant, who has been handling finances for him, and preparing for a cash out. Most of his assets are in the form of some rare paintings, which are hidden inside his house, and some diamonds, which he hides in a different spot. He wants all his wealth to be divided into three parts after his demise and sent over to his family members. It is clear that although he has not been in contact with his kin in the last many years, he still cherishes the memories with his family. Knox had once been quite close to his only son, Miles, back when the latter was just a young boy. However, the dangerous and unlawful profession that he was in did not impress Miles when he finally got to know about it, and the son did not want to keep contact with his assassin father. Since the protagonist’s marriage with his erstwhile wife, Ruby, who was also Miles’ mother, ended at this time, it meant that he was no longer in contact with his son.

It is suggested that Knox had seemingly tried to contact Miles a few times in the last few years, but to no avail, as Miles wanted no relation with him after growing up and starting his own family. Therefore, when the man suddenly knocks on his father’s door, Knox does not understandably recognize his own son. Along with the many years of distance between the two, with Miles’ physical appearance having changed a lot with age, there is also the fact that Knox has been struggling with his memory even more now than at the beginning of the film. He manages to figure out the identity of the stranger at his door through the conversation, though, and immediately welcomes Miles inside. Naturally, his first question is about the clear marks of blood on his son’s hands, and in fact, the answer to this question is the very reason for Miles’ sudden reunion with his father.

As a grown man, Miles married a woman named Cheryl and had a daughter named Kaylee. At present, Kaylee is a sixteen-year-old teenager and has had some issues with trusting people she should not have believed in. Kaylee had met a man named Andrew Palmer on the internet and had gotten romantically involved with him upon his pursuit. Palmer was actually a known sexual predator, as revealed by the police later on, who used to contact many such teenagers online and get them to send illicit photos to him. In fact, Palmer was also a member of a neo-Nazi gang, and it is extremely likely that the man was also involved in a child pornography ring. Having convinced Kaylee that he genuinely wanted to be with her, Palmer had gotten physically intimate with her, leading to her getting pregnant. This discovery had infuriated Miles because of the evident predatory nature of the relationship, especially since Palmer was technically abusing a minor girl. 

On one occasion, Miles publicly assaulted Palmer after running into him at a restaurant, but this did not discourage Kaylee at all. To the girl, her father simply wanted to meddle in her love life, and so she still kept in touch with her supposed boyfriend. Miles could no longer accept this situation, though, so he decided to confront Palmer at the latter’s house. He also threatened him about the ill consequences of staying in touch with his daughter. However, Palmer turned out to be even more detestable, as he showed no regret for his acts and instead kept instigating the desperate father. Taken over by anger, Miles found a kitchen knife and stabbed Palmer in the neck, then continued to repeatedly wound the man and kill him. Suddenly, Miles was a murderer, with a dead body to dispose of and also an unforeseen situation to manage, and therefore, he decided to take advice from the only person who could help him at the moment. He knew that, as someone who had been in the profession for so long, his father, Knox, had enormous experience in how to get rid of dead bodies and clean up crime scenes, and so he appeared at Knox’s doorstep after so many years of keeping no contact with him.

Why does Knox plant the false evidence?

After agreeing to help Miles get over the sudden difficulty in his life, John Knox immediately goes over to the house of Andrew Palmer, where the resident’s dead body still lies in a pool of blood. Knox first cleans up the scene but leaves behind a few items in order to make the scene convincing as a spot of murder for the police. Interestingly, he picks up some key pieces of evidence, such as the kitchen knife with which the murder had been committed and a glass that had been touched by Miles, but does not really get rid of them. Instead, Knox neatly packs up these items and carries them along with him, intending to put them to some other use in the near future. He then also goes to the length of knocking down the security guard in the apartment complex to tamper with the security camera footage in order to get rid of evidence proving Miles’ presence at the place.

However, Knox does not delete the complete footage of Miles’ entry and exit, and although it seems at the time that he missed out on it because of his CJD-induced forgetfulness, the man actually has a very different plan in mind. The investigating police detectives eventually call upon Knox and interrogate him, but only for the murder of Muncie and the human trafficker. Notably, all three people at the house had been killed by the same gun, and therefore, the police suspected that it was actually a mission gone wrong. They naturally suspected Muncie’s long-time colleague, John Knox, and brought him in for questioning, even though no evidence of the man had been found at the house. It is only later on that the police find a connection between the dead Palmer and Knox through the latter’s granddaughter, Kaylee, but it was already too late.

By this time, Knox had come together with his only remaining close friend, the mobster Xavier Crane, and had made an extensive plan with him. He had planted Miles’ blood and fingerprints on the items he had brought back from the crime scene, and he had also imprinted a shirt belonging to Miles with Palmer’s blood. Knox had then left all of these key pieces of evidence in a dumpster behind his son’s house, knowing very well that the police would find them. Very soon, the police do come across these items and immediately arrest Miles for the murder of Palmer. While the son is shocked by this strange outcome, he is visited by Knox in prison, and the protagonist claims that he had done all this because Miles had betrayed him in the past.

A few years ago, Knox had been arrested by the police for tax fraud, for which he had to spend seven years in prison, and he now reveals that he knew Miles had snitched on him at the time. Thus, he claims to have planted the false evidence against Miles as revenge against his son, for he wanted him to experience betrayal as well. However, at the end of Knox Goes Away, it is revealed that these actions were actually part of a grander plan made by Knox, for he actually had the best interest of his son in mind. Although he had planted all the evidence against Miles, Knox had ensured that the police would easily recognize the false nature of these items, and surely enough, when examined with scrutiny, the authorities realized that the murder weapon, Miles’ fingerprints, and the blood on his shirt had all been carefully planted to mislead them. They also find the security camera footage to have been tampered with, while it could not be proven that Miles had arrived at and left the apartment complex at particular times. At the same time, Xavier Crane calls up the police and leaves an anonymous tip about Knox being the real murderer of Palmer, which was part of Knox’s plan. As the police detectives are convinced by this new twist, they identify Knox as the real murderer and immediately release Miles, acquitting him of all charges.

What happens to Knox?

Knox Goes Away‘s ending revealed that Knox had intended to incriminate himself as the murderer of Palmer during all this while and had ensured that the police would have no doubts about his son, Miles. In this while, Knox had also been betrayed by his sex-worker lover, Annie, who had informed some local goons about the wealth in the man’s house and had brought them over to loot the elderly man. Knox had managed to kill off the goons but left Annie alive, also informing her that he had always intended for one-third of his wealth to go to her. These extra murders of the goons are also mentioned by Xavier in his tip to the police, upon the request of the protagonist, and so the police rush to Knox’s house and arrest him for the series of murders.

It was perhaps too predictable that Knox would take on the blame for the murder of Palmer and free Miles in the process, and this is exactly what happens in the end. While Knox is imprisoned, his wealth is divided into two parts and given to his estranged wife, Ruby, and his son, Miles, while Annie is now understandably cut off from the will. By the time John Knox is imprisoned and then moved to a mental health facility, he has completely lost his memory and is steadily heading towards death. Knox Goes Away ends with a scene of the protagonist at the facility, staring out of the window with no recollection of his crime-filled life or the redemption he had accomplished for having failed to be a good father.

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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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