The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013 Film)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013 Film) Summary and Analysis of Part 3


Walter has a vision of Cheryl appearing in the bar in Greenland. She stands onstage with a guitar and dedicates a rendition of "Space Oddity" by David Bowie to him. He follows her out of the bar as she leads him to the helicopter. The helicopter begins to take off, and Walter jumps onboard to go out to the ship where he thinks Sean O'Connell might be.

"Glad you came," says the pilot as they fly out to the boat, rocking in the wavy ocean. He then tells Walter that he isn't going to land and that Walter should take a parcel and jump into the boat. Walter hesitates, terrified, then jumps into the water. The lifeboat goes towards him as one of the men on the boat yells that Walter has a minute before he will freeze. Suddenly, Walter thinks he sees a shark swimming around him in the water, but the man in the boat insists that it's a porpoise, which will protect him from the sharks. The porpoise swims towards him, but at the last minute reveals itself to be a shark. The fishermen pull Walter onto the boat just in time.

Onboard, the men tell Walter that Sean O'Connell has already left and gone to Iceland on another boat and he is not possible to reach via radio. Another fisherman gets Walter some clothes and a piece of clementine cake, which Walter's mother makes him. When Walter looks at the paper wrapping the cake, he sees some notes that seem to be Sean O'Connell's—a field itinerary. The fisherman tells Walter that Sean gave him some tips for his Instagram.

Walter notices the name of an Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, and decides it must be where Sean is headed next, on May 2nd. The fisherman tells Walter that the boat is landing in Iceland the next day.

The boat docks in Iceland and a fisherman shows Walter how to get to the volcano on a map. He points towards a bicycle nearby and tells Walter he'd better get going, so that he can claim it before the fisherman gets it—they all want to go to a strip club, apparently.

Walter gets to the bicycle first and bikes away towards the volcano, passing beautiful Icelandic countryside as he goes. As he bikes, his cellphone rings; it's Todd from eHarmony who tells him that his profile hasn't received any winks. Walter informs him that he almost got eaten by a shark and that he jumped out of a helicopter. "I'll put down 'adrenaline junkie'!" Todd says, excitedly.

When Walter hangs up, he sees a flock of birds making a formation in the sky nearby. The formation looks exactly like Cheryl, and as Walter smiles up at it, he runs his bicycle into a road sign and sets off on foot. At the volcano, Walter asks some teenaged boys to direct him towards the volcano, but they do not speak English and laugh at his attempts to communicate. When he notes that the teenager is holding a longboard, Walter pulls out his stretchy action figure and offers to trade it for the longboard, intending to bring it back for Cheryl's son, Rich. The teenager agrees to hand over the longboard and the boys suddenly make a run for it.

Walter goes inside a big house where he encounters a man who tells him where Sean O'Connell went. Thanking the man, Walter runs away, but the man calls after him in Icelandic, seemingly very upset. Walter runs towards a giant expanse, and longboards down the road. When he arrives in a small town, a siren goes off and the man who gave him directions arrives in a car, telling Walter that there is going to be an eruption. Before getting in the car, Walter sees Sean fly by, riding on the wing of a small plane towards the eruption.

Walter gets in the car and the man drives away, but Walter tells him he wants to go towards the eruption so he can find Sean. Eventually, they arrive back in town, and Walter thanks the man for coming back for him. The man points Walter towards a nearby motel next to a Papa John's. Walter goes to the Papa John's and examines the photos Sean sent.


The visions that Walter has serve to heighten the drama and emotion of different scenes. Walter's fantastical visions add even more luster to moments that are already exciting or imbued with a particular emotion. For instance, when he makes the decision to go in the helicopter with the drunken pilot, he is visited by a vision of Cheryl singing "Space Oddity," a performance that reaches its climactic peak as Walter jumps onto the helicopter.

Even moments of crisis and danger are filled with comic absurdity and a lighthearted tone. When Walter goes to jump into the fishing boat, he accidentally jumps into the water first, and finds himself in freezing ocean. Then, when a fish that he thinks is a gentle porpoise begins swimming towards him, it suddenly emerges from the water as a horrifying shark. This moment is at once suspenseful and comedic; there is a contrast between Walter's desire to take risks and be brave, and his actual terrified response to danger.

As soon as Walter begins to take risks, the world seems to conspire to help him in his adventure, no matter how dangerous that journey gets at times. When he nearly gets eaten by a shark, he is pulled into a lifeboat right before anything bad can happen. Then, on the ship, a fisherman brings him a piece of clementine cake, a strangely coincidental reminder of home and his mother's baking. Wrapping the cake is a clue to Sean O'Connell's next stop, and conveniently enough, the boat is landing in Iceland the next day. When Walter makes the decision to be the protagonist in his own story, he finally becomes more at home in the world, even if that comes with some harrowing risks.

The sense that the world is conspiring to help Walter self-actualize lends it a mystical quality. As Walter starts running towards the adventurous destiny that he has always wanted, he lives less in a world of visions and fantasies, because his life is becoming as magical and inspiring as he always wanted it to be. He meets various "guardian angels" along the way, the most persistent of which is Todd, the customer service representative from eHarmony. Todd wants to help Walter get a date from his website, and serves as a kind of cheerleader for Walter as Walter becomes the "adrenaline junkie" that he has always longed to be.

As Walter builds up his courage and starts taking more risks, the film turns into more of an action film. We see Walter longboard down a giant stretch of road in Iceland, pursuing the daredevil photographer Sean O'Connell. When he does see Sean O'Connell, he is riding on the wing of a plane towards the volcanic eruption. The hero's journey that Walter is on becomes an opportunity for him to become more like his courageous role model, Sean.