Film Spoilers and
|Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description|
Michael Clayton (2007)
Unstable Defense Attorney Edens Was A Threat to His U/North Agro-Chemical Company, and Was Killed (Made to Look Like a Suicide); U/North's Corrupt Counsel Karen Crowder Was Caught Offering 'Fixer' Michael Clayton Hush Money
In writer Tony Gilroy's directorial debut film, George Clooney was featured as the title character - Michael Clayton, a ruthless, high-powered former prosecutor turned troubled "fixer" corporate lawyer (or "special counsel") in New York for Kenner, Bach and Ledeen (headed by Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack)). The tagline said it all: "THE TRUTH CAN BE ADJUSTED."
His job was "janitor" - to clean up various problems and keep high-paying clients out of trouble, although he had problems of his own: a divorce, gambling addiction to poker, and a remaining debt of $75,000 (for a sour deal regarding a failed restaurant business) that he was struggling to pay off for his alcoholic brother Timmy Clayton (David Lansbury).
The film opened with issues involving the law firm's involvement in a multibillion-dollar class-action lawsuit (that was about to be settled pre-trial) against their client, an agro-chemical company named U/North. The company was accused of using a cancer-causing pesticide, and there were additional problems with their unstable defense lawyer Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), a friend of Clayton's. Edens had been working on the U/North case for 6 years and suffered a breakdown during a deposition in the case in Milwaukee when he stopped taking his medications.
Then the plot revealed a failed attempt on Michael's life by a car-bombing. He had received a phone call to drive to Westchester, and as he inexplicably left his parked car in the countryside to view three beautiful horses on a hillside at dawn, he watched it explode from a distance.
The film then flashbacked to four days earlier and explained the circumstances of Clayton's predicament. Guilt-ridden Edens (who opened the film with a rambling, voice-over rant about his condition: "...I had been coated in this patina of shit for the best part of my life") was revealed to be planning to sabotage the pre-trial settlement of the lawsuit with U/North's ruthless chief in-house counsel Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton), by distributing large numbers of red-bound copies of a confidential scientific report (Memorandum # 229). The report, from one of U-North's own internal research teams (and signed by CEO Don Jefferies (Ken Howard)), told about the hazardous effects of human exposure to the weed killer involved in the lawsuit.
Arthur had been persuaded to turn against U/North by one of the young plaintiffs in the case - a farm-girl named Anna (Merritt Wever), with whom he had became infatuated. To stifle Edens, Crowder hired henchmen to track and spy on Arthur's phone-calls and whereabouts - and then to kill him - by faking his suicidal death from an overdose (by injecting him between the toes). They also plotted to kill Michael with a car bomb, after he was suspicious that Arthur didn't leave a suicide note at the scene, and that Arthur was on his way to meet Anna at the airport on the same evening he died.
In the film's final scene, Karen Crowder calmly assured U/North executives at a board meeting about the settlement of the lawsuit, when she was surprised by a live confrontation with Michael Clayton - not dead from the car-bomb but quite alive. He blackmailed her, proposing that he could be bought off for $10 million to keep quiet:
She agreed ("You have a deal"), but didn't realize that he had secretly broadcast their conversation about her offer of hush money. He then told her: "You're so f--ked" - after which he said: "Let me get a picture while I'm at it." He snapped her picture with his cellphone's camera and then identified himself: "I'm Shiva, the God of Death."
As she collapsed to the floor, she was arrested by Michael's NY police detective brother Raymond (Kevin Hagan), who had heard everything. The end credits played over Michael Clayton's $50 drive around town in a taxi ("Give me $50 dollars worth. Just drive"), viewed in a long-held shot.
Attempted Car Bombing to Kill Michael Clayton
"Suicide" of Defense Lawyer Edens
Karen Crowder and Memorandum # 229
Recording the Bribe and Snapping Crowder's Picture: "I'm Shiva, the God of Death"
"Just drive" - Ending Credits
Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
Lenny and Wife Amanda Adopted Linda's Child; Later, Linda Became Pregnant By Lenny and Raised the Child; When They Met Later, They Didn't Know That They Had Each Other's Child
The plot of this Woody Allen comedy-romance was based on the classic Greek myth of Pygmalion (the basis of George Bernard Shaw's play and My Fair Lady). It used the technique of a mask-wearing Greek chorus device (composed of F. Murray Abraham, Olympia Dukakis, David Ogden Stiers and Jack Warden) with characters who performed songs and dances to comment on the film's events.
Manhattan sportswriter Lenny Weinrib (Woody Allen) and his art-curator wife Amanda (Helena Bonham-Carter) adopted a bright boy named Max. Lenny was obsessed with finding Max's real parents, and after "breaking the law" in the Adoption Office by searching in sealed files, he discovered the son's tall, blonde mother was formally named Leslie Wright/Wailes/St. James, with the "fake name" of Linda Ash, who did "sex movies...skin flicks." Lenny was shocked to learn that she was a hooker and adult film star with the screen name of Judy Cum.
He made a 3 pm appointment and met her at her apartment - she turned out to be a ditzy, foul-mouthed, high pitch-voiced, aspiring actress (Best Supporting Actress winner Mira Sorvino). She bragged about her adult film accomplishments, but added: "My real ambition is to be on Broadway in a musical. I sing." She told him that because he was married, he looked sexually-needy: "It's been a long time since you've had a great blow job," and that her fee was $200 paid up-front. When Lenny began to judge her lifestyle and hint ("You could have a husband and a child or something"), she thought he was becoming possessive ("You're telling me what to do"), and demanded that he leave immediately, with his money refunded.
When he met her again outside her apartment and invited her to lunch, she reluctantly agreed, and then she told him more about herself. Her biological father was a drug pusher, car thief, pickpocket, burglar, epileptic, and was accused of mail fraud, so she ran away from home at age 14. After her musician boyfriend Johnny committed suicide, she waited tables, worked in a massage parlor, did phone sex, prostituted herself, and participated in her first adult film titled "Snatch Happy." She had never married ("They're all assholes") and she came from a family of "slugs and lowlifes" ("I'm the only one with any ambition"), but probably inherited her intelligence from her father's brother. She said: "I did have a child once," but then dropped the subject.
After attending the horse races with Lenny, they departed, although in their next rendezvous, she finally told him what he wanted to know:
She explained to Lenny why she gave up the boy, who was illegitimately conceived, due to a broken condom:
Meanwhile, Amanda had an affair with her work colleague Jerry Bender (Peter Weller) - partially due to Lenny's all-consuming obsession with Linda (Amanda: "Things have changed between us"), and she moved out to explore their relationship. When Lenny found out, he was consoled by Linda and they had sex together.
Later in the film, Tiresias (Jack Warden), the blind seer of Thebes, described the consequences. Linda became pregnant, but she never told Lenny. Conversely and ironically, Linda ended up with Lenny's child:
Soon after, Amanda confessed she wasn't in love with Jerry and reconciled with Lenny.
By the film's happily-ever-after "smile" ending in a postscript a few years later, Lenny and Linda accidentally met in a toy store. Linda had left her hooker business and exchanged it for a normal suburban life, working as a hairdresser, with marriage to helicopter pilot Don. She was raising Lenny's fathered child as her own, and Lenny was continuing to raise her child Max. Each had the other's child - without each other's knowledge:
Adoption of Max (Linda's Child) by Amanda and Lenny
Lunch With Linda
At the Horse Races
"I had a kid, Lenny, and I gave him up for adoption"
Lenny and Linda - Kissing and Having Sex
Lenny Reconciling with Amanda
Linda Giving Birth to Lenny's Child
Lenny and Linda Meeting in Toy Store
Linda as Hairdresser, Living in Connecticut
Greek Chorus Leader (F. Murray Abraham)
Mildred Was Accused of Killing Her Second Husband Monte Beragon - The Real Murderer Was Mildred's Promiscuous Daughter Veda
This melodramatic, film-noirish murder mystery opened with the killing of thin-mustached Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott) in his shadowy, dark beach house at night. A gun was heard being fired six times in rhythmic tempo as the victim muttered the film's first word: "Mildred!"
The murderer was unseen - a missing action shot in the film that was not revealed until the very end.
At the police station, at the end of a second lengthy flashback, prime suspect Mildred Pierce-Beragon (Joan Crawford) confessed to Inspector Peterson (Moroni Olsen) that she was the one who had murdered her second husband - Monte Beragon: "I went to the house. Monte was alone. And I killed him." Peterson didn't believe Mildred, and thought she was only taking the blame. At that moment, the door to the office opened, and two detectives brought in Mildred's daughter Veda (Ann Blyth) - she had been picked up at the airport on a plane bound for Arizona. Peterson began to viciously question Veda, prompting her to incriminate herself and confess to the killing.
In the film's third and final flashback to what had actually happened with Mildred, Veda and Monte at the beach house, Mildred was seen walking forward out of the shadows. She came upon Monte kissing Veda over the bar in the darkness. Monte sheepishly spoke: "We weren't expecting you, Mildred, uh, obviously." Veda then bluntly confessed that she was having a long-term, surreptitious affair with her own mother's husband:
Although Mildred pulled a gun from her coat pocket, she dropped it to the floor when Monte grabbed her arm and cautioned her ("Mildred, use your head"). Then after Mildred fled, Monte rebuffed and scorned Veda:
Veda became enraged when Monte denied Veda's request to get married (he denied loving her and claimed he must have been drunk), and when he called her a promiscuous "rotten little tramp." Outside, Mildred heard six shots - and when she came back inside, she found her crazed, impassioned daughter standing over the dead body of Monte, and claiming:
Mildred finally told Veda: "I can't get you out of this," although Veda was desperately pleading with her mother to be sympathetic and help her ("Give me another chance. It's your fault as much as mine. You've got to help me. Help me, Mother!"). Mildred phoned the Santa Monica police department to report the murder, but then hung up.
The film returned to the present, where Mildred was admitting to Peterson: "I thought maybe, in a way, it was my fault. So I tried to help her. I wanted to take the blame for it." Mildred looked on as Veda was about to be booked and led away by an officer, as Peterson spoke: "Not this time, Mrs. Beragon. This time, your daughter pays for her own mistake. OK, book her!" Veda and Mildred hugged and spoke one last time:
Mildred was released after Peterson mused: "You know, Mrs. Beragon, there are times when l regret being a policeman." In the hallway as Mildred exited to get some "fresh air", estranged husband Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett) was waiting for her, and they walked into the approaching dawn. Now that Veda had been purged and could no longer poison their relationship, they were restored to each other.
The Opening Murder of Monte Beragon
Flashback to Murder:
Monte: "You don't really think I could be in love with a rotten little tramp like you"
The Killer - Veda
Monte - Dead on Floor
Veda to Her Mother: "I Told Him I'd Kill Him"
Veda Pleading With Her Mother
Veda Charged With the Crime: "OK, book her!"
Mildred's Reconciliation with Estranged Husband Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Boxer Maggie, After A Severe Injury During a Championship Bout, Became a Paraplegic; Her Trainer Frankie Euthanized Her
Director/star Clint Eastwood's Best Picture-winning (melo-) dramatic sports film told about 31 year-old Ozark white trash waitress Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank). She was trained to become a boxer by the reluctant gym owner of LA's The Hit Pit Frankie Dunn (director Clint Eastwood), who was estranged from his own daughter Katy.
She was winning a welterweight championship title bout in Las Vegas when she was sabotaged by foul play. Her East German opponent Billie the Blue Bear (real-life boxer Lucia Rijker) struck her with an illegal blow on the left side of her face when the referee wasn't looking. The dirty punch sent her into a red corner stool and broke her neck. She was left with a spinal neck injury that made her a quadriplegic. She was bedridden and had to have a leg amputated due to muscle atrophy and bed sores.
In the film's conclusion - one that contained a controversial and dramatic ending, Frankie knew that she wanted to die (she had tried killing herself by biting her tongue and bleeding to death), and wished that he would assist in her euthanasia. She asked a "favor" from her weathered and beaten-down trainer Frankie who was faithfully at her bedside - to be euthanized:
He initially told her, "I can't. Please. Please don't ask me...I can't." Then, after having reflected deeply over the issue of her mercy-killing, and having prayed and sought advice from Catholic priest Father Horvak (Brian F. O'Byrne), he then decided to assist in Maggie's suicide. In the dark, emotionally-wrenching and controversial ending of the film, however, he finally honored her request one evening.
The irascible but caring trainer Frankie entered her room and told her the meaning of the Gaelic phrase on her green fight robe: "Mo chuisle" ("Pulse of my heart" or "My pulse") that cheering crowds had chanted. After kissing her, he turned off her life-support breathing machine, removed her breathing tube and injected her with a fatal dose of adrenaline to cause her instant death. Afterwards, Frankie's silhouette exited from the hospital - and from boxing altogether.
The entire film was a 'narrated' letter Frank's friend, colleague and ex-boxer Eddie "Scrap Iron" Dupris (Morgan Freeman) - the film's narrator - was writing to Frankie's estranged daughter about her father's character.
"Mo chuisle" ("Pulse of my heart" or "My pulse") on the Back of Maggie's Green Fight Robe
Maggie on Life Support
Frankie's Tough Decision
The Serial Killer in the Group was Psychopathic Lucas, Who Admitted Killing His Parents When He Was 10 Years Old and Developed a Desire to Kill; As a Personal Challenge, He Had Orchestrated Rube-Goldberg Style Death Traps For All the Other FBI Profilers ("Worthy Prey") on the Island
Director Renny Harlin's long-delayed mystery thriller was thoroughly described in the film's tagline:
Seven young FBI students were to be trained as profilers during weekend practice exercises with their teacher off the coast of North Carolina on the small island of Oneiga (a deserted US Navy Training Facility) 50 miles offshore. Their goal was to use their brains (Mindhunters) to search for a mock serial killer suspect known as the Puppeteer. Arrogant and egocentric Jake Harris (Val Kilmer), the instructor, had devised a "sick, twisted crime scenario" or simulation for the group.
The preposterous film's premise, being stranded and picked off one-by-one, was similar to other who-dun-its including Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (1945) and Ten Little Indians.
A major clue to the killer's modus operandi was provided by the title of the movie playing on the Majestic Theatre's marquee: The Third Man (1949) - it referenced Orson Welles' line about "the cuckoo clock." It also hinted that the killer was not a third party, but one of the group members. A character named Gabe gave a slangy summary of the film:
The participants in the weekend training, each of whom had a specific fear, habit, hang-up, trait (skill or weakness) that would be exploited by the profiling killer, were:
The first morning (Saturday), a dead cat was found hanging with a watch stopped at 10 am in its mouth - a possible warning sign of the time of the next life-threatening incident or killing. Elaborately-staged Rube Goldberg-style death traps began to eliminate each of them according to a time-frame devised by the killer (signaled by timepiece clues left at each death scene): "With each new killing comes a resetting of the clock." After the first death, the group began to suspect each other (especially Gabe, then Sara, and even Jake).
When everyone passed out from drugged coffee at 12 noon, the killer set up the rest of the surprise traps. Letters (with phosphorescent powder) inscribed on the back of their jackets spelled Croatoan -- "like the island, the colony...one of the first sites settled by the Europeans in the New World" - the island was the ill-fated, lost colony location (the name was carved on a tree) where over 100 original settlers vanished in the late 1500s.
Killings (the serial killer was never seen directly killing anyone) were conducted in various gruesome ways, at set times:
Gabe and Sara, the two survivors, awaited a rescue helicopter the next morning. Gabe quizzed Sara as a potential profiler when he asked her: "One last question: When's the situation secure, Agent?" Sara responded: "On the drive home" - something that she had learned in the opening training sequence.
J.D. Reston (Christian Slater)
Rafe Perry (Will Kemp)
Bobby Whitman (Eion Bailey)
Nicole Willis (Patricia Velasquez)
Jake Harris (Val Kilmer)
(Clifton Collins Jr.)
Lucas Harper (Jonny Lee Miller)
The Last Two Survivors: Sara Moore (Kathryn Morris) and Gabe Jenson (LL Cool J)
Minority Report (2002)
Pre-Crime Law Enforcement Program Boss Lamar Burgess Cleverly Murdered Anne Lively - the Mother of Pre-Cog Daughter Agatha; Pre-Crime Cop John Anderton Was Set Up and Framed for the Murders of Two People: Leo Crow and Detective Witwer, and Was Caught and Imprisoned; When Exposed for the Lively Murder by Anderton (Who Had Escaped Confinement), Burgess Committed Suicide; The Law Enforcement Experiment Was Shut Down --- Was the Film's 'Happy' Resolution Only a Wish Fulfillment Dream By Imprisoned Anderton?
The setting of this sci-fi action film and mystery-thriller, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, was Washington, DC. It was the year 2054, and crime had been nearly eliminated. A futuristic, elite law enforcement organization or department known as "Pre-Crime", was headed by Lamar Burgess (Max Von Sydow). The department used three psychic humans known as Pre-Cogs lying in floatation tanks - they had special group-mind powers that were able to forecast and envision future crimes before they occurred. The senior Pre-Cog was a fragile girl named Agatha (Samantha Morton), who would often produce secondary, secret "minority reports" with conflicting, pre-visualized cognitions from the other two Pre-Cogs.
One of the main Pre-Crime cops was Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), who was surprised one day after learning that the Pre-Cogs had predicted that he would commit a murder himself in the next 36 hours - of a man named Leo Crow, someone that he did not know. The murder, which used Anderton's gun, was blamed on Anderton, although Crow had previously arranged to have himself killed, for financial gain. Set up and framed, Anderton went on the run as a fugitive (with a kidnapped Agatha), while being pursued by dedicated federal oversight Justice Department agent-detective Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell). Removing Agatha from the floatation tank effectively shut down the entire Pre-Crime department during her absence.
In the conclusion of the film, it was discovered that Burgess had murdered Anne Lively (Jessica Harper) in 2049 - Pre-Cog Agatha's mother. He had killed Lively by luring her to a lake with the promise of seeing her daughter. To deceive the Pre-Cogs, Burgess orchestrated two murders. The first killer was apprehended, as expected, but then Burgess carried through with the crime, without being caught. He knew that the second murder would appear as a technical echo and would be ignored. His deceptive scheme was to prevent the psychic pre-cogs from being able to report or detect that he was the murderer.
Burgess' motive for the killing was that Anne, who had conquered her drug habit (which had originally compelled her to sell Agatha to Pre-Crime), had now wanted to remove her daughter from the Pre-Crime flotation tanks. Threatened by the thought, Burgess wanted to prevent the shut-down of his sinister law enforcement program. Burgess also murdered Witwer when he began to acquire too much knowledge about Burgess' involvement - Witwer was murdered (using Anderton's gun retrieved from the Crow crime scene). Now, Anderton was charged with two murders, eventually caught, and imprisoned.
Burgess was guilty of Lively's murderer and had set up and framed Anderton, and then mistakenly revealed too much to Anderton's drug-addicted ex-wife Lara (Kathryn Morris). He told her that Lively had died by drowning - something that he shouldn't have known if he had no knowledge of her death as he claimed earlier.
After Anderton escaped from the prison (with Lara's aid), he was able to have Pre-Crime broadcast (to a large celebratory banquet with Burgess in attendance) a narrated recording of Agatha's pre-vision of Burgess (in a secondary "minority report"), in the act of murdering Anne Lively by drowning:
Anderton then asked: "So, what are you gonna do, Lamar? What are you gonna do?" Anderton presented Burgess with a dilemma and difficult choice - to murder or not murder him:
Burgess responded: "Yes, I have a choice, and I made it. Forgive me, John. Forgive me." A gunshot sounded. Had he killed Anderton? The duplicitous crime boss had committed suicide by shooting himself - with his final apologetic words: "Forgive me, my boy."
The film ended with Anderton's voice-over about the demise of the 'experiment':
Anderton and his ex-wife were reunited and remarried, and she was expecting.
Another twist in the film was possible, however -- the earlier line of dialogue by prison guard Gideon (Tim Blake Nelson) to imprisoned cop Anderton hinted that the final favorable resolution of events in the film was just a dream and wish-fulfillment on Anderton's part, or that the entire film had been Anderton's dream:
Burgess' Murder of Anne Lively By Drowning (Detected by Pre-Cog Daughter Agatha)
Anderton Confronting Killer Burgess With a Dilemma
Burgess' Choice: Suicide
Anderton Reunited with Ex-Wife
Pre-Cog Agatha in Undisclosed Location
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