The Stranger’s intense investigation mirrors a real-live undercover operation

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead for The Stranger*

While many crime films are thrill-a-minute action romps, the newest arrival from Netflix takes things at a much more deliberate pace as it weaves layers of character into its unfolding story.

That film is The Stranger which details a carefully planned undercover police operation that hopes to bring the perpetrator of a heinous crime to justice.

The Stranger’s narrative is one that slowly unfurls to reveal more of the truth but its ending has prompted some questions and needs to be explained.

The Stranger | Official Trailer | Netflix



The Stranger | Official Trailer | Netflix






The Stranger release date and plot preview

After a cinema release in Australia earlier in the month, The Stranger skulked its way onto Netflix on Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

Loosely based on a true story, the film follows an intense undercover police operation that hopes to bring the perpetrator behind a child’s disappearance and possible murder to justice.

At the heart of the story is Mark, an undercover police officer who is tasked with befriending and eliciting a confession from Henry Teague, the suspect in James Liston’s disappearance eight years earlier.

The slowly unfolding operation begins on an overnight bus when Henry meets a man named Paul who says that he can introduce Henry to a group of individuals who can clear any past criminal record.

Henry is initially hesitant when Paul is suddenly replaced by another man named Mark but agrees to continue and over the course of several long hours in the car, he and Mark begin to bond.

The Stranger © Netflix

The Stranger ending explained

After spending a considerable amount of time in each other’s company, Mark and Henry form an unlikely friendship as they carry out work for an underground drug gang that promises to clear Henry’s name from any past crimes.

Mark is left constantly on edge about the situation as, while he starts to befriend Henry, he knows that the man is suspected of murdering a child and he can’t help but fear for his own safety and that of his own young son.

Eventually, as part of his final initiation into the criminal gang so that he may be cleared of his crimes, Henry is asked to reveal the details of his past nefarious to a high-level boss in the gang named John – who is, of course, another undercover police officer.

Henry not only admits to kidnapping the young boy eight years earlier, but he also confesses to murdering him shortly after.

Mark and John convince Henry to take them to the location where he disposed of the body to make sure that no trace of the crime can ever be uncovered.

However, after Henry leads John and Mark to a forested area where he disposed of the boy’s body, the undercover officers finally reveal their true intentions and arrest Henry for his crimes.

An extensive search of the surrounding area then takes place and amidst the numerous fingertip searches, the murdered boy’s remains are discovered, giving the police the physical evidence they need to go alongside Henry’s confessions in order to officially charge him.

The Stranger ends by focusing on Mark who breaks down into tears immediately after Henry’s arrest, overwhelmed by the stress of this undercover mission which combines grief for the murdered child, relief after fearing for his own safety, and also sadness that a man who had grown to become a close friend could commit such a heinous crime.

The Stranger © Netflix

What true story is The Stranger based on?

The Stranger is loosely based on the real-life murder of 13-year-old schoolboy Daniel Morcombe who was abducted and killed in December 2003.

After an eight-year investigation and an undercover operation inspired by a similar one used in Canada, police arrested Brett Peter Cowan in August 2011 who was convicted of Daniel’s murder in 2014 and sentenced to life in prison.

For the film, however, details such as the characters’ names as well as the film’s time period have been altered as the Morcombe family did not approve of having their son’s name attached to Netflix’s film adaptation.

Speaking in a statement quoted by News.com.au, Daniel’s father, Bruce Morcombe, said: “We absolutely said ‘no we don’t want any part of that.’ Daniel’s legacy is all about educating kids.”

In July, Daniel’s mother Denise Morcombe posted the following statement on Twitter: “The movie ‘The Stranger’ is not supported by the Morcombe family.

“Individuals who make money on a heinous crime are parasites. They are callously disrespectful to Daniel, the DMF (Daniel Morcombe Foundation) and the Morcombe family.”

In response, Netflix said in a statement: “The Stranger is a fictionalized account of the undercover police operation that resulted in a successful murder prosecution. Out of our deepest respect for the family, the name of the victim is never mentioned in the film and the film does not depict any details of the murder. Nor is the family represented in the film in any way.

“Instead it tells the story of the unknown police professionals who committed years of their lives and their mental and physical health to resolve this case and others like it.

“When the film was first in development, the producers approached the family to make them aware of the film. They declined to be involved. It is a decision we continue to respect.”

The Stranger © Netflix | Ian Routledge

The Stranger is available to stream now on Netflix after releasing on Wednesday, October 19, 2022.

In other news, The School For Good And Evil soundtrack: Every song in magical movie

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