Film Spoilers and
|Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description|
Phelps Was the Duplicitous Rogue Agent Who Faked His Own Death And Orchestrated Deaths of Others During Opening Mission; Phelps Shot Partner Claire Dead, and Died with Krieger in Helicopter Explosion
In this Brian De Palma action thriller, covert American IMF (Impossible Missions Force) agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) was sent to Prague with other colleagues, including:
The spy squad team led by Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), Claire's husband, was instructed to stop traitorous American embassy attache Alexander Golitsyn (Marcel Iures) from stealing a NOC (Non-Official Cover) list of agents in Eastern Europe from a high-security computer room during a reception at the Embassy.
The plan went awry when Jack was killed in the elevator shaft, both Sarah and Golitsyn were knifed and murdered at a metal gate, Phelps was shot in the stomach and fell from a bridge into a river, and it appeared that both Hannah and Claire expired in a car explosion.
Soon after, sole-surviving Ethan met with CIA-based IMF director Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) and was told the real objective of the mission -- Kittridge explained how the operation (referred to as Job 314) was basically a "molehunt," to learn the identity of an inside traitor who would benefit from the sale of the NOC list to an illegal Czech arms dealer known as "Max" (Vanessa Redgrave). "Max" would, in turn, sell the list to the highest bidder. Kittridge revealed that Golitsyn was actually a CIA agent, and that the list Golitsyn stole was a decoy, with the actual list secure at Langley, Virginia CIA's headquarters.
Then came one of many of the film's complex twists -- Ethan was accused of being the rogue double agent - the real target of the mission. Also, Claire had survived the car bombing, although presumed dead by the CIA.
To clear his name, Ethan decided to steal the list himself and use it as bait for the real traitor. He assembled a team of "disavowed" agents, including:
The group of agents successfully infiltrated the CIA in Virginia, and acquired the real NOC list. It was offered to "Max" for $10 million, in exchange for the delivery of Job -- the mole.
Back in London, another surprise revelation occurred when Phelps appeared, actually alive. Although Ethan played along when Phelps claimed that Kittridge was the mole ("I saw who shot me. I saw the mole. It was Kittridge"), he suspected that Phelps was the mole who had caused computer hacker Jack's 'accidental' death during the mission. Phelps had faked his own shooting on the bridge (he used a gun with blanks and then a soaked sponge to rub a blood-like substance on his hands). He also detonated the car bomb, while Krieger knifed Golitsyn and Sarah.
Ethan was certain Kittridge would come after him, to acquire the NOC list, confirmed when the film concluded on a high-speed train from London to Paris where all the major players came together. The NOC list on disk was traded to "Max" in exchange for $10 million and "Job." The funds were to be handed over in the train's baggage compartment, where Ethan impersonated "Phelps" (with a latex mask) and discovered that Claire was her own husband's conspiratorial partner.
Phelps was conclusively proven to be the rogue agent, when Ethan wore special video-transmitting glasses and transmitted an image of Phelps to Kittridge on his video wristwatch, showing that the traitorous, duplicitous Phelps was still alive. Ethan added: "I'm not the only one who's seen you alive." Kittridge viewed Phelps on the wristwatch and greeted him: "Good morning, Mr. Phelps."
Phelps shot Claire dead, and then in the exciting conclusion atop the train inside the chunnel, Phelps met his own fiery and explosive end when his getaway helicopter (piloted by partner Krieger, who was all along partnered with Phelps) was blown up with explosive chewing gum, and he died in the falling wreckage that crushed him into the train tracks. Ethan narrowly escaped death by riding the fireball back to the train.
The NOC list was returned to Kittridge from "Max," the Justice Department apologized to Ethan, and Luther was reinstated as an IMF agent, although Hunt was reluctant to join him.
Musgrave Was the Real Traitor, Collaborating with Bad Guy Davian to Sell a Weapon (Rabbit's Foot) To US's Middle East Enemies; Davian and Musgrave Were Killed in Conclusion By Hunt and Wife Julia and the Rabbit's Foot Was Reclaimed
In this third installment in the long-running blockbuster film franchise, semi-retired Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt's (Tom Cruise) Operations Manager John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) revealed that he was the real traitor. Musgrave had made it appear that IMF Executive Director Mr. Theodore Brassel (Laurence Fishburne) was the mole.
Musgrave explained to Hunt how he had used and collaborated with the film's malicious bad guy Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), at the center of the conspiracy, to profit from a McGuffin object of everyone's interest. The illegal object was a valuable weapon, code-named the Rabbit's Foot (worth about $850 million), to be sold to the US' enemies in the Middle East:
Once the US Security Council received the report of the delivery about six hours later, Musgrave predicted a "military strike within a week. And when the sand settles, our country will do what it does best. Clean up. Infrastructure. Democracy wins." Musgrave anticipated that the Middle East would attack, resulting in massive US retaliation in the region, and he would be rich and successful as a result.
To acquire the Rabbit's Foot, Davian had blackmailed Hunt into stealing the object from a lab in a highly-fortified skyscraper in Shanghai, in order to trade it for his new wife Julia's (Michelle Monaghan) life. After Hunt delivered the valuable McGuffin to Davian (and his turncoat partner Musgrave who suddenly appeared), Hunt believed that his wife was shot in the head before his eyes (seen in part in the film's opening before the story's long flashback), although Musgrave pulled off Julia's latex facial mask to reveal the face of Davian's dead translator. In place of Julia was his incompetent Head of Security from Vatican City who had failed him. Julia was still alive - to Ethan's utmost relief.
Musgrave then admitted that he was after Brassel's job (calling him an "affirmative action poster boy"). He also divulged that he had told Davian about Ethan's trained protege Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell) and had set her up to be killed in a Berlin warehouse (in an early scene in the film), while putting the blame on Brassel. Musgrave's biggest worry was the effectiveness of his set-up of Brassel ("Did she [Lindsey] buy that Brassel set her up? Did she buy that?"), and whether his name had been compromised at the IMF.
In the film's conclusion, Hunt fought hand-to-hand against Davian who died when he was run over, head-on, by a truck. However, an explosive capsule detonated in Hunt's brain meant he had only four minutes to live. He rapidly instructed wife Julia on how to handle a gun before electrocuting himself, in order to deactivate the capsule in his brain.
Julia helped defend her unconscious husband by shooting and killing Musgrave, who dropped a small case carrying the Rabbit's Foot, and then performed CPR on her husband to save his life.
The Mist (2007) (aka Stephen King's The Mist)
Drayton's Premature Suicidal Mercy Killings Were In Vain
Writer/director Frank Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's novella The Mist became a science-fiction horror-thriller film. It told about a strong thunderstorm and a subsequent massive power outage, that affected the small town of Bridgton, Maine. Then, a mysterious, unnatural fog full of otherworldly, monstrous creatures, pterodactyl-like animals, spider-like monsters, and giant flying insects enveloped and trapped a few dozen people in the local supermarket.
The controversial ending was one in which a group of five survivors fleeing in a car ran out of gas in the midst of a monster-ridden mist on a winding forested road.
In the film's final few minutes - a sadistic, tacked-on, bleak, nihilistic and sacrificial ending (not in the Stephen King novella), widowed artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) realized that there were only four bullets left, so he opted to mercy kill (with bullet shots to the head) occupants of the car, leaving himself the only survivor:
He then stepped out of the car and screamed in anguish for one of the unseen blood-thirsty creatures to kill him -- but then a military caravan of tanks and trucks pulled up, in a deus ex machina moment. The soldiers torched the remaining creatures and helped any remaining survivors, causing David to collapse in dazed disbelief at the pointlessness of his inane sacrifice.
Mr. Brooks (2007)
Serial Killer Mr. Brooks (Urged by Marshall) Unexpectedly Framed and Killed Blackmailer Peeping Tom Mr. Baffert ("Mr. Smith"); Brooks Experienced a Nightmare of His Killing-Addicted Daughter Murdering Him
This psychological thriller from writers/directors Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon told about a well-respected Portland businessman and debonair philanthropist named Mr. Earl Brooks (Kevin Costner), founder of a Box Factory and the Chamber of Commerce's Man of the Year. He also had an evil and murderous alter ego (id) - known as Marshall (William Hurt) who constantly urged him to commit serial murders - usually targeting couples mid-sex.
The film opened with the ominous text: "The hunger has returned to Mr. Brooks' brain. It never really left." Brooks engaged in an internal conversation with Marshall as the film began, using Alcoholics Anonymous-style confessions to struggle against his insistent inner demon. Knowing he was addicted to killing but hadn't committed a crime for over two years, Brooks begged Marshall not to entice him to begin again: "Don't let me do this, please. I don't want to start again."
But he succumbed, and methodically and meticulously murdered a couple having sex in their bedroom (they were exhibitionists, often leaving their curtain open). He left his trademark - the victims' bloody thumbprints on a lampshade, making him known as the "Thumbprint Killer" - the re-opened homicide-serial killer case was investigated by police Detective Tracy Atwood (Demi Moore).
Shortly later, Brooks was blackmailed by a mechanical engineer named Mr. Baffert (Dane Cook), but anonymously calling himself "Mr. Smith." He was a peeping tom who had witnessed the Portland murder from his adjacent apartment and taken incriminating photos, and demanded to accompany Brooks on his next killing to feel the "rush."
In the meantime, Brooks' daughter Jane (Danielle Panabaker) dropped out of college in the Bay Area (Palo Alto) only half-way through her freshman year. Although she claimed she was pregnant by a married man and was possibly planning an abortion, it was revealed that she was "hiding something bigger" - she had committed a hatchet murder of fellow student Phillip Ramsey in her dorm shortly before returning home. Fearing that Jane had inherited his own killer traits and instincts ("I've been afraid of this since before she was born...she has what I have") and would be arrested, Brooks "cleaned up after her" by disguising himself and committing a second hatchet murder in the Palo Alto area to throw off the authorities and clear Jane.
Brooks also had a "wonderfully twisted" idea about who would be "Smith's" first victim during their joint murder - restaurateur Jesse Vialo (Jason Lewis). The hapless choice was Detective Atwood's soon-to-be ex second husband with whom she was having a messy divorce. (The womanizing Vialo was demanding $5 million from Atwood while having an affair with his own attractive lawyer Sheila (Reiko Aylesworth)). At Vialo's double-homicide murder scene where the making-out couple were murdered, "Smith" left his DNA by urinating on the floor when he panicked - and Brooks knew that it would incriminate his inexperienced partner.
As part of a concocted story that he was terminally ill and wanted to disappear (to spare his family pain and to end his killing cycle forever), Brooks schemed to have "Smith" shoot him dead and bury his body in a open grave in a cemetery, but then double-crossed him in the film's twisting surprise ending.
He had previously tampered with "Smith's" murder weapon so that it wouldn't fire, admitting: "In case at the last minute, I changed my mind, I returned to your apartment and bent the firing pin on your gun." He also confessed that the damning photos - the contents of "Smith's" safe-deposit box had vanished. He then beat "Smith" to death with the graveyard shovel (one slashing blow severed his neck and he bled to death) and buried him, leaving no evidence. "Smith" was then the sole suspect in the Vialo murder (after DNA typing of his urine), and Brooks continued to act like the perfect and upright citizen.
However, Atwood sensed that Baffert wasn't the murderer after Brooks impersonated him during a phone call.
In a startling final scene with a shock (fake) ending, Brooks nightmarishly dreamt that his sweetly-manipulative daughter Jane mercilessly killed him as he kissed her while she was sleeping (she savagely stabbed him in the throat with a pair of scissors), a fear he had felt for a long time.
When he awoke in shock next to his loving wife Emma (Marg Helgenberger), he recited the Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity prayer to himself, begging mercy from God for his impure impulses.
Moon (2009, UK)
Both Astronauts: "Original" Sam and Sam 2 (His Replacement) Were Clones, Created to Supervise LUNAR's Sarang Mining Base on the Far Side of the Moon. The Two Clones Were Actually the 5th and 6th Clones In Succession at the Base, Over an Approximately 12 Year Period. A Hidden Lower-Level Chamber Held Cryo-Sleep Drawers of Replacement 'Sam' Clones. At the End of Each Clone's 3-Year Contract, the Existing Sam Clone Would Begin Deteriorating, and During a Promised 3-Day Return Journey Home to Earth Would Actually Be Incinerated in a Cyrogenic Hibernation Protection Pod. Each Clone Was Fed Uploaded, Edited Memories of the Real Original Sam Bell with Wife Tess and Daughter.
Director Duncan Jones' plot-twisting sci-fi film (with obvious filmic references to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Silent Running (1972), and others) was set on the far side of the Moon. Hints of its discovery of identity theme were found in its two taglines: "250,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to face...is yourself," and "The last place you'd ever expect to find yourself."
It began with a voice-over from lone, bearded, long-haired astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell):
He was located on the far side of the Moon at a mining base named 'Sarang,' and working for a Japanese consortium titled LUNAR Industries, Ltd. He was at the end of a three-year contract, supervising the strip-mining of lunar rock (with gigantic robotic threshing or harvesting robotic machines) to obtain Helium-3, a major component of fusion technology for green solar fuel energy. Communications with Earth were reduced to only video-taped recordings, and Sam was beginning to show signs of stress and homesickness ("I'm talking to myself on a regular basis. Time to go home, you know what I mean?"). He missed his wife Tess (Dominique McElligott) and his young 3-year old daughter Eve, and was only able to speak to them through delayed video messages. He was also experiencing hallucinations and dreams of making love to his wife.
His only contact and companion was a semi-mobile, multi-tasking AI robotic assist machine named GERTY 3000 (voice of Kevin Spacey) with a robotic arm. The questionably-helpful, smooth-voiced, programmed GERTY used yellow smiley face emoticons to communicate emotions and monitored Sam's every move.
The film took a turn when he went out in a rover to repairing a malfunctioning harvesting mining machine named Matthew, and distractedly crashed the rover into the thresher after seeing an hallucinatory mirage of a female.
After a dissolve (the loss of consciousness), Sam awoke in the infirmary where GERTY told him that he had experienced an accident that he couldn't remember. Shortly later, Sam struggled off the infirmary bed and overheard GERTY having a clandestine conversation with Thompson (Benedict Wong) at HQ:
The film's major spoiler, only hinted at in GERTY's message, was that the fraudulent Japanese consortium (LUNAR Industries) that was running the operation had cloned him inside the base station, and replaced the injured Sam in the rover with a new version of himself (aka Sam 2). GERTY demanded that the 'new' Sam repeatedly take memory tests, claiming he had experienced slight brain damage in the accident, and he needed to strengthen his logic skills. Sam was ordered to remain at the base by LUNAR's Overmeyers (Matt Berry), who also promised that they would send a "rescue unit" to tend to the stalled harvester.
After convincing GERTY that he had to check the exterior shell of the base - after sabotaging it himself with a minor gas leak, Sam evaded GERTY and left the base. He took another rover to the crash site, where he made a remarkable discovery. He found an injured version of himself in the damaged rover. He brought his 'original' self back to the base, and then yelled at GERTY: "You tell me who that is!" The 'original' disoriented, injured and tired Sam was placed in the infirmary, and told there had been an accident - while the 'cloned' Sam 2 (Robin Chalk), a younger-looking, mirror-image, healthier clone, looked on from a distance.
The 'original' Sam listened to another message from Tess, telling him that Thompson was "promising the world - I think it was the right thing, but it's just such a long time." Sam angrily asked GERTY about the other 'Sam Bell': "What the hell's going on?...I'm losing my mind." GERTY asserted that LUNAR had not been told that he had been rescued alive from the rover. The two Sams each thought the other was an inferior clone ("We look like each other"). The company sent a message that it had secured a Rescue Unit (a three-man crew) named ELIZA, to arrive in approximately 14 hours. It had purportedly been sent to "fix" the stalled Harvester, but the clone suspected that Sam's promised contract to return to Earth in a few days wouldn't be honored. The frustrated 'original' Sam yelled at the clone: "I'm the original Sam. I'm Sam f--king Bell."
The plot became even more complex when it was theorized that neither of the two Sams was an 'original'. The clone was suspicious that the company had a secret supply room of replacement clones inside the base: "What about the other clones?...We might not be the first two to be woken up...There might be others up here right now...I bet there's some kind of secret room...You really think they give a s--t about us? They're laughing all the way to the bank." The two engaged in a bloody struggle when the second Sam insisted on tearing the base apart to find the hidden room.
The 'original' Sam confessed to GERTY that he had anger issues, which had caused his wife Tess to leave him for 6 months, after which she gave him a "second chance." When 'original' Sam directly asked GERTY: "Am I really a clone?" - he was given a clear explanation that both of them were clones of the 'original' Sam who had long ago returned to Earth. GERTY described how it had awakened a new clone after the rover crash and implanted the memories of the real "original" Sam Bell into the clone:
The second cloned Sam told the first Sam that there was a conspiracy, and that they would be in a deadly, problematic predicament once the 'rescue team' arrived: "I wasn't supposed to find you...They don't want us to be able to contact Earth. They lied to us." The two Sams decided to join together to search the base, and drove two rovers outside the working perimeter of the base. There, they discovered that live long-range communications were deliberately being jammed by transmitting antennas. The first Sam was also beginning to physically deteriorate after three years of service, and was throwing up blood and losing teeth. He played back archival video of the four previous Sams (all physically debilitated as their 3-year contracts expired), as they prepared to take a three-day return journey back to Earth in a cyrogenic protection pod (although they were actually incinerated).
The two found a secret, out-of-bounds level of vaults below the hibernation chamber, where there were hundreds of ready-to-use cloned Sams stored in 'cryosleep' pull-out drawers. Beyond the perimeter in a rover, the first Sam called Tess but instead reached 15 year-old daughter Eve (Kaya Scodelario), who told him that Tess had "passed away some years ago." Stunned, he hung up before her father ("original Sam") was called to the video screen. In only seven hours, the ELIZA 'rescue unit' would arrive, and the two Sams knew that if they were found together, they would be eliminated. They decided on a plan of action in a race against time, to seek a way to return to Earth in a Helium-3 transport, and expose LUNAR's conspiracy:
Just before the closing credits as the launcher entered Earth's atmosphere, news reports (in voice-over) were broadcast about the controversy stirred up by Sam's (clone 6) testimony and evidence, alerting the public to LUNAR's unethical practices. LUNAR's stocks slipped another 32% after accusations.
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
After Jealously Putting Out A Hit Contract on Camilla, Diane Committed Suicide; Most of the Film Was Diane's Fantasy Dream
The confusing aspect of this David Lynch film was that roughly 115 minutes of the film (the first three quarters) was an idealistically-portrayed and romanticized fantasy dream by Diane Selwyn (Naomi Watts), who imagined herself as rising star Betty Elms (also Watts) - before her death.
Betty was a perky, strongly-willed, blonde ingenue and wannabe newcomer to Los Angeles (the city of dreams) from Canada, who won a jitterbug contest (during the credits) that allowed her to travel to Hollywood: ("Oh! I can't believe it!...and now I'm in this dream-place"). In the first part of the film - her dream of stardom, she took charge of a relationship with glamorous amnesiac brunette 'Rita' (Laura Elena Harring). Both Betty and 'Rita' were presumably aspects of Diane's imagination.
Then, the dream ended when a blue box found in Betty's purse was opened with a blue key that a now-blonde Rita found in her purse (after Betty disappeared) -- a clue that the two identities of Betty and Rita were somehow inter-connected.
When Diane was commanded by the Cowboy (Monty Montgomery) to wake up from her dream, the remainder of the story in the film's second part was told in flashback.
It was revealed that Diane was actually a jaded, would-be actress/groupie who was having a lesbian affair with bi-sexual 'Rita.' Diane was jilted when a blonde named Camilla Rhodes (Melissa George), the real up-and-coming star in Hollywood, chose to be with the casting Director Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) who had chosen her for a part (due to mobster pressures).
Jealously, Diane hired a hitman at Winkie's diner to kill Camilla (now played by Harring) - and then fantasized how life could have been better. When she saw a blue key signifying that the "done deal" was accomplished, the guilt-ridden Diane went into her apartment's bedroom and suicidally shot herself in the head. She was found dead on her bed.
Interpretations may vary, but it's entirely possible that the parallel characters of Diane/Betty and Rita/Camilla were really aspects of the same person - and that Diane's death also meant the death of Rita.
Murder by Death (1976)
There Was No Murder of Millionaire Host Twain; The "Cook" Yetta, Thought At First to Be A Robot, Had Sought Revenge Against Five Famous Literary Detectives
In this plot-twisting, comedic 'who-dun-it' tale set in an old country mansion (at 22 Lola Lane), the main characters were five famous literary detectives, all with slightly different names:
The group was summoned to an old mansion for dinner by eccentric millionaire mastermind/host Lionel Twain (Truman Capote). They could win $1,000,000 if they could solve a murder to be committed within 24 hours at midnight. The house was managed by blind butler Jamesir Bensonmum (Alec Guinness) and a deaf-mute maid/cook (Nancy Walker). During the night, after the discovery of the dead butler, and equally dead Twain, and the cook was revealed as an animated mannequin or robot, there were various death threats to the guests, involving a venomous snake, deadly scorpion, falling ceiling in a shrinking room, poisonous gas, and a bomb.
Each of the sleuths came up with a completely ridiculous solution to the stabbing murder of Twain himself. They told their solutions to the butler Bensonmum, who was originally thought to have been dead, but was very much alive.
By film's end, it was revealed that there was no murder - making the mystery unsolvable. The butler removed his mask to reveal that he was Twain. After the guests left, Twain removed his mask to reveal that he was Yetta - the "deaf/dumb" maid/cook who was behind the entire scheme to make the detectives look like fools. But then, it begged the question: what had happened to Twain?
Presumably, Yetta had sought reader's revenge for the outlandish contrived plot endings in their novels, and laughed maniacally at the end after they had all left.
[Note: One might ask if Yetta was just another mask, or if Yetta had actually murdered both the butler and Twain.]
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