The crowd in the Colosseum is chanting Maximus' name.
Commodus enters the bowels of the Colosseum. Maximus is in chains. Gracchus is among the other enslaved Gladiators.
Commodus starts talking to him. A glorious death is required, and there is nothing more glorious than fighting the emperor himself in the arena.
Maximus and Commodus chat a bit—Maximus says Commodus has been afraid all his life.
He tells Commodus that he once knew a man who said that death smiles at us all, and all a man can do is smile back. Commodus asks if his friend smiled at his own death.
Maximus grins, and tells him he should know because he killed him and was there.
After some more talk, Commodus hugs Maximus, stabs him in the back just below the shoulder, and then kisses Maximus.
He tells Quintus to put Maximus' armor on and conceal the wound.
The crowd is still chanting as Maximus and Commodus ride the elevator up to the arena, encircled by praetorians.
Red flower petals are falling on them. They're strewn about the arena.
Maximus, wounded and weak, does his thing with the dirt.
Quintus, who is holding his sword, tosses it out of reach so Maximus has to limp over and pick it up.
Once he has it, the two began fighting. The crowd roars.
Even a wounded Maximus is still a great fighter, and for a while the two are evenly matched.
Soon, Maximus knocks Commodus down. He gets up quickly, and they continue fighting.
During a close encounter, Commodus slices Maximus' leg.
Maximus, further weakened from the sword slash, still fends off Commodus' advance. Eventually, he slices Commodus' arm. He drops his sword as a result.
The sound starts to go quiet. Commodus asks Quintus for a sword. Quintus doesn't respond. He asks again, and then asks the praetorians.
They pull swords out, but Quintus orders them sheathed, twice. They obey.
Maximus is fading quick, and drops his sword. The music shifts, and he appears to be reaching for something.
The scene shifts, and the camera approaches the wall with a door in it that we've seen before (when Maximus almost died earlier).
Lucilla can sense something is wrong.
Maximus is totally out of it when we see him again.
Suddenly, Commodus pulls a knife from his sleeve, and starts slashing at Maximus.
He easily evades Commodus' thrusts, and then hits him a number of times with his fists and elbows.
Commodus is bleeding by now, all over his nice white outfit.
He is weakened, and is unable to fend off Maximus' blows. He tries to stab him; Maximus grabs the hand with the knife in it, and stars turning it towards Commodus.
Commodus flails his arms, trying to stop Maximus. Suddenly, the decisive moment comes, and Maximus stabs Commodus in the neck.
They stare at each other, and then Maximus pushes the knife deeper, before carefully lowering the now-dead Commodus to the ground.
Lucilla and Lucius are dumbstruck.
The camera shifts to an aerial view. Maximus is stumbling away from Commodus' body, but he's still on his feet.
Lucius is watching intently as Maximus stumbles around.
The music changes, and the scene shifts. Maximus is approaching the door.
We see his hand reach out, in the arena, and then we see his bloody hand open the door in the wall of the afterlife.
A beautiful, tree-lined path is shown. It looks like his old house in Spain.
Maximus smiles. Quintus calls his name twice.
Maximus tells him to free his men, and to reinstate Senator Gracchus.
"There was a dream that was Rome. It shall be realized. These are the wishes of Marcus Aurelius," he exclaims.
Quintus orders the prisoners released. We see Maximus' hand brushing the wheat once again.
Stone-faced, we can tell he's really close to death.
Suddenly, he collapses, just as Lucilla arrives.
She runs up to him, calls his name. He tells her Lucius is safe. She tells him, "Go to them."
We see Maximus' family in the afterlife. They turn around, as if they've just realized that Maximus has arrived.
His son runs towards him. We see Maximus, dressed in armor, approaching his son.
Lucilla closes his eyes in the arena, and says, "You're home."
The freed prisoners emerge. Lucilla turns to them and asks, "Is Rome worth one good man's life? We believed it once. Make us believe it again."
These words, it turns out, were really directed at Senator Gracchus.
Then, Lucilla says Maximus was a soldier of Rome, "Honor him." Gracchus has been approaching, and he asks, "Who will help me carry him?"
Everybody goes to help, Juba, Lucius, even Quintus.
The camera shifts to an aerial shot. As the procession exits with Maximus' body, the crowd stands to their feet. A reverent silence reigns.
The scene shifts again. It's dusk. Juba is burying Maximus' figurines.
He says, "Now you are free" (also the name of the song that is playing). He also says he will see him again. "but not yet," he adds, smiling.
The camera rises up. Juba has just buried the figurines in the Colosseum, the arena where Maximus fought his final battle and dispensed with the need for the figurines (he's in the afterlife now, with his actual family, and doesn't need stand-ins).
We see a splendid (and digital) shot of Rome at dusk. The music is melancholy, yet uplifting and moving.
Maximus is free as well, and so, it seems, is Rome.