Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings
Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description

The Jacket (2005)

As A Result of Jack's Time Travels While Wearing a Strait-Jacket, He Saved Jackie's Mother From Death, and Jackie From Living a Sad Life in the Year 2007

In director John Maybury's sci-fi time-travel thriller The Jacket (2005), (similar in plot to La Jetee (1962, Fr.) and Jacob's Ladder (1990)), Persian Gulf War veteran Marine Sgt. Jack Starks (Adrien Brody), had miraculously survived after a bullet wound to the back of his head in 1991 - shot by a young Iraqi boy at close-range.

[The film's twist was that it was entirely possible that Jack had died in the early 1990s from this traumatic and mysterious head injury - and everything that he experienced in the film afterwards was just an hallucination. He actually spoke, in voice-over: "I was 27 years old the first time I died. I remember there was white everywhere. There was war, and I felt alive. But, really, I was dead."]

As a result of his severe injury, he suffered from "retrograde amnesia, acute psychological suppression" - and was awarded the Bronze Star. He appeared in his home-state of Vermont 12 months later, in 1992, where he was walking down a snowy road. He came upon young Jackie Price (Laura Marano), the daughter of drunken Jean (Kelly Lynch), whose pick-up truck was stalled by the side of the deserted road. When Jackie asked about his dog-tags from the war, he gave them to her.

Later, when hitch-hiking and he was picked up, their car was stopped by a cop for driving too slow, and he was falsely accused of the murder of Officer Harrison (shot three times by the driver). When questioned, there was no last name, no physical presence, and no residence found for Jean and Jackie - his sole recollections of the day. Believing he was suffering from Gulf War syndrome with "a damaged mind," the court found him not guilty by reason of insanity and he was committed to Alpine Grove Psychiatric Hospital - an institution for the criminally-insane.

Creepy and deranged Dr. Thomas Becker (Kris Kristofferson) was in charge of his treatment (using a previously-banned behavioral modification technique). Starks was injected with an experimental hallucinatory drug and placed in a tight body-length strait-jacket within a basement morgue drawer for lengthy periods of time, causing him to have frightening, surrealistic recollections. Dr. Becker rationalized that the drug would reset Starks' "violent proclivities - peel away some layers of hate."

The repeated use of the drug and mortuary drawer caused time travel transport (both to his future and his past) - Starks was taken 15 years into the future to the year 2007 on Christmas Eve, where he met up again, in St. Albans, Vermont, with grown-up, dark-eyed, sickly, chain-smoking Jackie (Keira Knightley), employed at Baillie's Motel and Diner. Homeless and unprepared for the cold, he was taken to her place, but cautioned as she left to take a bath: "I don't wanna meet you. I may wanna help you tonight, but I don't wanna know you, really." By chance, he happened to notice his dog-tags given to her years earlier, and a picture of the young girl with her mother (now deceased - Jackie told him: "she passed out with a cigarette and burned to death").

She insisted that his recollections about meeting them, giving her his dog-tags and his claim that he was Starks were all inaccurate. "He's dead. His body was found New Year's Day, 1993, Alpine Grove" - meaning that he only had a few days until he died to discover how he might have died. Although he pleaded, "Don't you remember me?" and was desperate to learn more, she screamed for him to get out.

Another trip to the future added more detail: "Jack Starks died from a wound to the head, January 1st, 1993." He also made love to Jackie before departing, as she entreated him: "Come back to me, Jack." When he visited again, Jackie and Jack located retired Dr. Becker, who told him: "We're all dead, Jack." He feared it would be his "last time" visiting Jackie.

On the day of his predicted death, Jack delivered a letter to Jean's house, once more meeting young Jackie. As he walked back into the psychiatric hospital, Jack suffered the predicted serious "blunt trauma" head injury when he accidentally slipped and cracked his head on the icy driveway. His voice-over - the contents of the letter written to Jean - described his experiences:

I've seen life after my death, and I'm telling you this, because it's the only way to help you and your daughter have a better life of your own. Jean, you're gonna pass out one day smoking a cigarette and burn to death. Your daughter grows up living the same sad life you're living right now. And she misses you so much. Sometimes life can only really begin with the knowledge of death. That it can all end, even when you least want it to. The important thing in life is to believe that while you're alive, it's never too late. I promise you, Jean, no matter how bad things look, they look better awake than they do asleep. When you die, there's only one thing you want to happen. You wanna come back.

At the same time, he was being rushed into the jacket and drawer, to take a final time travel trip to the future to bring him back to Jackie. When he arrived, he learned that Jean was now alive, and both were living a better life (Jackie was driving a new VW car and looking healthier) - as a result of his letter.

The screen faded to bright white as she asked: "How you doing?" He replied: "Better now." She replied (off-screen): "How much time do we have?"

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Jacob Singer Died in Vietnam -- All of the Events in the Film Were His Hallucinatory Efforts to Deny His Death

In the prologue of this psychological thriller, Vietnam vet soldier Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) suffered a serious bayonet wound to the stomach, and was helicoptered out of the fighting zone to an army hospital. The film led one to believe he survived, but in reality, he died in combat on an operating table (revealed in the final scene).

Singer's horrifying, hallucinatory visions of horned creatures and demons were the fantasies and dreams of a dying (or dead) man (experiencing death-bed visions) who couldn't accept his death and was unwilling to let go. Throughout the film, there were foreshadowings of his death:

  • a palm reader named Elsa (S. Epatha Merkerson) told him: "You're already dead"
  • during a horrific experience in hell/purgatory where he was taken on a gurney, he was bluntly told by an Evil Doctor (Davidson Thomson) in the blood-stained underworld hospital that he was dead ("You've been killed. Don't you remember?")

His guardian angel/chiropractor named Louis (Danny Aiello) counseled him about hell being like purgatory:

Eckhart saw Hell too. He said: The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of your life. Your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul...So the way he sees it, if you're frightened of dying and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearin' your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freein' you from the earth. It's just a matter of how you look at it, that's all. So don't worry, okay? 'K? Relax...relax. Relax.

Before accepting his own death, Jacob needed to be reconciled with the fact of the death of his young 6 year-old son Gabriel (uncredited Macauley Culkin) while he was still in Vietnam, when he remembered /imagined Gabe's death by an automobile when the young boy was picking up baseball cards he had dropped in the middle of the street while walking his bicycle.

Jacob also had a secret rendezvous with 'hippie chemist' Michael Newman (Matt Craven) who told him that his battalion had been secretly given a dose in their C-rations of an experimental psycho-reactive drug (code-named 'ladder'), to counteract the effects of combat-induced post-traumatic stress, but instead caused the soldiers to kill each other. Although there may have been a government conspiracy, Jacob's hallucinations upon his return to NYC were not caused by the drug, or battle stress, but because he wasn't freeing his soul.

In the next-to-final scene (in his old apartment bathed in golden light), Jacob finally accepted his own death. In the climax, Jacob spotted his dead son Gabe, who was playing with a red music box (playing "Sonny Boy") on the stairs - the boy looked up and greeted him with: "Hi Dad!" As they hugged, Gabe reassured his father: "It's OK" - followed by Gabe telling him: "Come on, let's go up" - meaning their ascension up the staircase into the golden light.

Jacob's death on an operating table in Vietnam was then revealed, as an army doctor stated: "He's gone. He looks kind of peaceful... He put up a hell of a fight, though." The final screen stated: "It was reported that the hallucinogenic drug BZ was used in experiments on soldiers during the Vietnam war. The Pentagon denied the story."

Jagged Edge (1985)

Although Declared Innocent, Jack Forrester Was Guilty of Double Homicide; Forrester Was Killed In the Film's Conclusion by His Own Defense Lawyer

The surprise, contrived twist ending of this early Joe Eszterhas-penned courtroom thriller with many surprises finally revealed the truth -- that accused suspect and newspaper magnate Jack Forrester (Jeff Bridges) was guilty of a double homicide the entire time (he killed his San Francisco wife-wealthy socialite/heiress Page Forrester (Maria Mayenzet) and the house maid in their remote beach house), although he was found innocent.

He was engaged in an unprofessional affair with divorced, retired criminal law attorney Teddy Barnes (Glenn Close). When she made the startling discovery in a closet of his damning 1942 Corona typewriter (with a unique typeface including elevated 't's', that were found in all of the anonymous letters), she told Forrester. As a result, he attempted to kill her.

Dressed as a ski-masked intruder, he approached her in her bedroom late at night with the murder weapon - a jagged edged or serrated hunting knife. He was unsuccessful when she was ready for him - she shot him a number of times with a concealed gun. When he was unmasked by detective Sam Ransom (Robert Loggia), it was revealed that it was Jack who was the attacker (Ransom: "F--k him, he was trash").

Questions such as: "Was he guilty or innocent?", "Were Jack and his wife on the verge of breaking up over their mutual infidelities?", and "Was Jack in love with Teddy or just using her?" made the plot twisting and unpredictable.

Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003)
Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (2004)

The Bride (Beatrix Kiddo) Vengefully Killed Her Boss/Lover Bill, and Fled With Their Daughter B.B. To Live Happily Ever After

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino's blood-soaked, very violent action and grindhouse film (a revenge fantasy), contained numerous pop cultural references and stylized violence - it was another cinematic homage to the genres he loved most: kung-fu and martial arts (chopsocky) films, crime dramas, Japanese anime, B-movies, blaxploitation, Hong Kong action films, samurai sword epics and 'spaghetti' westerns.

The film's main plot was revenge of an assassinatrix (or hit-woman) named the "Bride" (Uma Thurman) (aka Black Mamba), widowed (and left childless) after her presumed 'death' on her El Paso, Texas "dress rehearsal" wedding day after an attack on the chapel by four members of the DiVAS (the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad - an elite group that she belonged to, led by her unseen boss Bill (David Carradine)).

In the film's opening sequence, set right after the massacre in the chapel, Bill wiped the Bride's bloody face with his monogrammed handkerchief, as he told her, "Now, Kiddo, I'd like to believe that you're aware enough even now to know that there's nothing sadistic in my actions. Well, maybe towards those other jokers, but not you. No Kiddo, at this moment, this is me at my most masochistic." As he cocked his pistol, she replied: "Bill, it's your baby," but he put a bullet into her head anyway. It appeared that everyone, including her unborn child, were murdered as well as members of the bridal party. However, the Bride survived the attack although she was comatose for four years (when she awoke from her coma, she cried out, "My baby, my baby!"). She created a Death Hit List of five that she would target: the four DiVAS, and finally Bill.

In the conclusion of the film, it was revealed that the Bride (aka Arlene Machiavelli - the fake name on her marriage certificate) was Bill's former lover, and he was disturbed by her secret pregnancy, her move to El Paso, and her planned wedding to Tommy Plympton (Christopher Allen Nelson), a used record store dealer in El Paso.

The Bride, real-named Beatrix Kiddo, tried to escape the assassination-business (and Bill) when she found out she was pregnant (she wanted to keep the baby a secret so that Bill wouldn't claim it: "She deserved to be born with a clean slate. But with you, she would have been born into a world she shouldn't have. I had to choose. I chose her"), and then settle in El Paso, Texas. When she disappeared, he became jealously enraged - he ordered her assassination and also pulled the trigger on her head, and then unbeknownst to her, cut out her unborn child (in utero) and lovingly raised the daughter himself. [The last line of Vol. 1 provided this hint from Bill: "Is she aware her daughter is still alive?"]

The Bride met her four year-old child, named B.B. (Perla Haney-Jardine), who obviously loved her father, for the first time, in their final confrontation in his hacienda. He had told B.B. that Mommy was asleep, but that one day she'd wake up and come back to her (B.B. confirmed this: "I waited a long time for you to wake up, Mommy"). They all played at being a family for awhile and Bill made a sandwich for the girl.

Beatrix ultimately sought revenge against the estranged Bill, claiming that she had "unfinished business with him." To kill him, she used "the five point palm-exploding heart technique" taught to her by martial arts master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), and he died after taking five steps on his back lawn.

Then, she departed with B.B., and the next morning, felt conflicting emotions (both grief and laughter) over the death of Bill, as she lay on a motel bathroom floor while hugging a stuffed animal ("Thank you, Thank you"), and then hugged her child as they watched Saturday morning cartoons in the adjoining bedroom together ("THE LIONESS HAS REJOINED HER CUB AND ALL IS RIGHT IN THE JUNGLE").

Killing Me Softly (2002)

Alice's Suspicious New Husband Adam Raped His Sister Deborah When They Were Children; She Was Vengefully Killing All of Adam's Lovers; Alice Killed Her, Then Divorced Adam

Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige's English-language film debut was this steamy, erotic thriller of sordid, obsessive, and dangerous attraction, told in flashback. It was similar in plot to Alfred Hitchcock's psychological thriller Suspicion (1941) about a newly-wed wife suspicious that her husband might be a rapist and killer.

Blue-eyed blonde and Indiana-bred Alice Loudon (Heather Graham), with "virtually no family and very few friends," had been living and working in London for a year and a half in a "comfortable" and "safe" relationship with boyfriend-engineer Jake (Jason Hughes). She was a well-paid designer of CD-ROMs and websites for corporate clients. After being love-struck by the sight of a handsome, seductive and brooding stranger on the street, she accompanied him and they made passionate love at the residence of his sister Deborah (Natascha McElhone).

After a heated romance and lots of fierce love-making with the stranger - revealed as celebrity mountain climber Adam Tallis (Joseph Fiennes), she married him, and on their honeymoon, she experienced bondage and his fetish for erotic asphyxiation with a silk scarf. Soon after, she began receiving mysterious hang-up phone calls and numerous anonymous typed letters, warning her about Adam: "USE YOUR HEAD, ALICE - WHAT DO YOU REALLY KNOW ABOUT HIM?" and a second more troubling one: "IT WAS A MISTAKE TO MARRY HIM." The Guardian's Magazine reporter, Joanna Noble (Yasmin Bannerman), who had written an article praising Adam as a hero, received a similar note: "What you wrote made me SICK - Your BIG HERO, Adam Tallis, RAPED ME - 20.10.1989. Why don't you Try reporting the TRUTH!"

Adam's character and his past were again called into question. Suspicious, distrustful and inquisitive of her husband's potentially-violent and secretive past life, Alice began an intensive inquiry into Adam's ex-girlfriends and relationships, and found some disturbing facts and similarities - an alleged rape (unreported) of Michelle Stowe (Rebecca Palmer), and a missing female named Adele Blanchard (who had also had her picture taken in the nude next to a stone statue of an angel in the church graveyard).

When Alice confessed her fears and suspicions to Adam after he had tied her up on their kitchen table, he asserted to her: "I have nothing to hide, Alice." At the police station, her charges of "domestic violence" brought against him were unsubstantiated, lacking evidence. Alice suspected that Adam had killed his lover Francoise Collette while climbing a few years earlier, making it look like an accident, when he learned that she was cheating on him and was planning to leave him. And she also thought that Adam had killed Adele for threatening to abandon him. Deborah advised Alice to not suffer the same fate: "Leave him, Alice. I know him."

The film's tense and exciting climax occurred in a snowy graveyard, near the angel stone statue, close to the St. Edmund's Church where Adam and Alice were married. Digging in the earth, Adele's buried corpse was discovered, with a telltale necklace similar to the one Deborah had given Alice. As it turned out, Adam was not guilty of any of the charges related to Adele or Francoise. As she fought against Alice, Deborah confessed the motivation for committing all of the murders - a combination of protective jealousy, incestual desire, and revenge against Adam's lovers, after he had raped her in the graveyard when they were kids: "Who do you think gave him his first piece of silk? He was just 15! I'm talking about f--king, Alice. That's right. We f--ked right here. Adam is mine! He's mine!"

Adam arrived and fought off his sister, who grabbed a shovel to strike him in the head. With a flare gun, Alice shot Deborah in the stomach and killed her, and she died looking into her brother's eyes.

A voice-over summary by Alice revealed that she had presumably divorced Adam, and saw him only once more two years later as they wordlessly passed each other on escalators at the airport.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Lily Opened the "Great Whatsit" Box and Detonated Nuclear Material at a Beach House

In the famous explosive, nihilistic/apocalyptic ending of this late film noir based on a Mickey Spillane novel of the same name, waiflike femme fatale Lily/Gabrielle Carver (Gaby Rodgers) opened the film's doomsday McGuffin -- the "great whatsit" -- a leather-strapped, metal-lined Pandora's Box stolen from a government science lab that was filled with nuclear material (loosely identified with "Manhattan project. Los Alamos. Trinity").

In a blinding white-hot light, she was incinerated and the beach-house she was in burst into flames with a powerful nuclear explosion.

Whether detective Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) and his assistant Velda (Maxine Cooper) survived or not was not entirely clear when the film abruptly ended.

In the film's restored version, they staggered onto the beach after escaping from the burning house and hugged each other in the surf.

Klute (1971)

The Abusive Serial Killer was Peter Cable, Who When Discovered Jumped Suicidally From a Building

This suspenseful thriller and character study told about a New York call-girl and aspiring actress named Bree Daniel(s), played by Best Actress-winning Jane Fonda. The cynical and troubled Bree was suspected of being involved in the disappearance of a Pennsylvania company executive Tom Gruneman. The Pennsylvania research firm's top executive was Peter Cable (Charles Cioffi), who hired family friend John Klute (Donald Sutherland) to investigate the missing persons case involving his colleague. Confusingly, Klute was the name of the small-town Pennsylvania police officer.

The 'homicidal' killer was suspected of sending obscene letters, making anonymous phone calls, stalking and abusing prostitutes, and was possibly involved in the suicidal deaths of two prostitutes.

The sick, psychopathic killer, threatening to kill Bree Daniels next, was eventually revealed to be Cable himself. He admitted that he was the abusive client of the two dead prostitutes - whom he killed to cover his own tracks, while framing Gruneman (who was also probably killed). [Gruneman witnessed him attacking one of the prostitutes, and Cable feared that Gruneman would someday use that knowledge against him.] Klute saved Bree from a lethal attack, and Cable jumped suicidally from the building to his death.

The film concluded with Bree moving out of her NYC apartment and returning to Pennsylvania with Klute, with whom she had become romantically involved..

Knowing (2009)

Premonitions of Disasters and the Destruction of the Earth in the Year 2009 Were Forecast 50 Years Earlier; A Solar Flare Incinerated Earth, as Two Children (Caleb and Abby) Were Whisked Away in an 'Alien' Spaceship by Strange "Whisper People" To Begin Life Anew on an Alien Planet

Alex Proyas' sci-fi action disaster thriller was set up with the opening of a 50 year-old elementary school time capsule with letters written by Lexington, Massachusetts schoolchildren in 1959. The letter of sad, slightly disturbed schoolgirl Lucinda Embry (Lara Robinson) was selected by precocious schoolboy Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), the son of recent widower, MIT astrophysics professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage).

The piece of paper had seemingly random numbers scrawled on it, and although Koestler believed in the randomness of the universe, he deciphered the numbers as meaningful and logical. He believed that a series of numbers in the letter, such as 911012996, referred, like Nostradamus, to "every major global disaster for the last 50 years in perfect sequence":

  • the World Trade Center disaster
  • the Lockerbie terrorist jet bombing on 12/21/88 when 270 died
  • the 168 people who died in the Oklahoma City bombing on 4/19/95
  • other plane crashes
  • car pileups
  • natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or the South Asia tsunami, etc.

He then figured out that the numbers were in exact sequence by date, body count (2,996 died on 9/11), and then GPS positional coordinates (latitude and longitude). The recent death of his wife Allison by smoke inhalation in a Phoenix hotel room while on a business trip was included on the list - an additional hint that his own son Caleb had been chosen by Lucinda to receive the prophecies.

In fact, Caleb was met a few times by silent bleached-blonde, silent Nordic individuals in dark coats, "whisper people" (who also spoke to Lucinda through telepathy) who handed him a smooth black rock (a sign of the aliens' presence whenever seen in the film) - and he was allowed to envision a future event as a dream: a woodland wildfire consuming stampeding deer and moose.

There were three more deadly events about to happen in the near future, and John was an eye-witness to each of them, the first of which was a realistically-fiery commercial plane crash near Boston's Logan Airport as John was driving on a clogged freeway. 81 died, due to an increase in electromagnetic radiation that fouled controls - according to reports.

He also foretold a Worth and Lafayette St. (Manhattan) subway train derailment crash-collision that he again participated in.

During his inquiries, Koestler met up with Lucinda's daughter, a single mother named Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne) who had a daughter named Abby (also Lara Robinson). Caleb and young Abby instantly became friends, although Diane at first rebuffed Koestler, but then met up with him again and admitted that her mother Lucinda had always warned her that she would die on October 19th (the last listed event).

Together, they drove to Lucinda's abandoned mobile home trailer in the woods where her mother had died of a drug overdose (in 1988), and guessed (and found evidence) that the final numbers: 10190933 were actually EE="everyone else" written backwards, signifying that there would be no survivors in the final catastrophe on October 19, 2009.

[Because Lucinda was rushed when writing the letter, she didn't complete it, and had left off a few final coordinate numbers - including the death of Diane and the entire world. John discovered that the final set of numbers, scratched by Lucinda's fingernails on the inside of a closet door in the school, were the coordinates of Lucinda's house - it was the only safe place to go.]

Outside the mobile home in the film's ending, John was told by his son and Abby (who was also experiencing whispers) that the mysterious black-suited figures who had been following both of them thoughout the film ("the whisper people") had been trying to protect Caleb and Abby, and that the two children had been chosen to leave Earth (each with a rabbit) to start over on another planet, but Caleb's father could not join them because he couldn't hear their whispers:

But we have to go with them. They won't hurt us....They've been protecting us all along, Dad. They sent a message ahead of them to prepare the way, and now they've come for us...They've chosen us so we can start over. So everything can start over...He's saying only the chosen must go, those who heard the call.

The "whisper people" were revealed as four luminescent creatures with wing-like wisps of light emanating from them. After a heartfelt goodbye with his son, and the aliens' departure in a massive spaceship shaped like Ezekiel's Wheel (from a Biblical drawing of Ezekiel's "chariot vision"), Koestler traveled back to New York City to reunite with his estranged religious father Reverend Koestler (Alan Hopgood) (and with his mother and sister Grace (Nadia Townsend)) before the solar flare incinerated all life on the planet.

A view from space showed that more than one spaceship took off from Earth. The last event was cataclysmic and apocalyptic - a disaster of worldwide proportions due to a massive, unstoppable solar flare (energy bursts that destroyed the Earth's ozone layer) that consumed the NYC skyline and Times Square (and soon the entire Earth), prefaced by chaos in the city's streets.

The final shot of the film was of the two Boston surburban kids, Caleb and Abby, in pure white robes, running through a field of alien filament grass toward a beautiful, white crystalline tree - a tree of life in Eden?

The reveal of the "whisper people" and the final scene on the alien planet (with spaceships landing) was controversial among viewers and critics for its religious implications, and the fact that the movie never clearly stated whether or not the "whisper people" were meant to be aliens, celestial angels, or some representation of both - and probably contributed to the film's cool reception.

Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings

(alphabetical by film title)
Intro | A1 | A2 | B1 | B2 | B3 | B4 | B5 | C1 | C2 | C3 | D1 | D2 | D3 | E1 | E2 | F1 | F2 | G | H1 | H2 | H3 | I | J-K | L1 | L2
M1 | M2 | M3 | M4 | M5 | N | O | P1 | P2 | Q-R1 | R2 | S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | S5 | S6 | T1 | T2 | T3 | U-V | W1 | W2 | W3 | X-Z

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