Film Spoilers and
|Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description|
CIA Officer Evelyn Salt Had Grown Up in Russia, Trained to be a Double Agent (or Sleeper Mole) To Execute a Secret Russian Plan (Dubbed Day X) Orchestrated by Orlov - to Assassinate the Reforming Russian President, and to Control the US' Nuclear Strike Capabilities. Salt Double-Crossed Orlov, and Then After Her Mentor Winter Revealed That He Was Also a Russian Agent Working Against Her, She Killed Him; Captured, She Convinced CIA Agent Peabody to Release Her to Kill the Remaining Foreign Agents.
In this quick-paced, escapist espionage action-thriller (fused with Cold War paranoia) from director Phillip Noyce, Angelina Jolie portrayed CIA officer Evelyn Salt. The convoluted and twisting tale (with one major plot twist and some minor ones) also left some gaping plot holes by the film's open ending - with the potential for a sequel.
In the film's opening sequences set two years earlier, she was a captive in North Korea prison, where she was brutally tortured as a suspected spy. Afterwards, she was pardoned and was part of a prisoner exchange at the border. She was saved due to the insistent efforts of her reknowned German arachnologist husband Mike Krause (August Diehl), who didn't know she worked for the CIA. She was returned to her desk job at a CIA-front company (Rink Petroleum) in suburban Washington DC.
Then on her second wedding anniversary in 2011 (the present year), she was called, with her partner/mentor Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber), to interrogate a terminally-ill (cancer) Russian defector named Oleg Vassily Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) - who counter-accused her of being a Russian spy. He claimed that she was part of a secret Soviet program to plant indoctrinated children into American families - English-speaking sleeper agents trained "to sabotage and assassinate." Orlov claimed that Salt was Chenkov, a double agent named KA-12.
The Soviets also had a doomsday plan to attack the US from within (dubbed Day X) - with two events that would destroy America and trigger WWIII.
She went on the run as a rogue agent in flight, relentlessly chased and pursued by ambitious counter-intelligence CIA agent Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) ("We bring her in or we bring her down"). She claimed her innocence, although Ted (at first supportive) grew more suspicious of her. She discovered that her husband Mike had been kidnapped from their apartment. She eluded capture by her quick-thinking, nimble and clever skills, and a number of disguises (including black-dyed hair).
Her first act was to assassinate reforming Russian President Boris Matveyev (Olek Krupa) as he delivered the eulogy during the Manhattan funeral of the recently-deceased US Vice President Maxwell Oates (the "architect of the new era of Russian-American relations"). She was present at the funeral, collapsed the church altar-floor under where the Russian President was standing, and apparently shot and killed him. As expected, anti-American protests erupted, and the new Russian president promised: "We will strike back."
To test Salt's allegiance to the Russians, Orlov (who had earlier escaped custody) killed her bound and gagged husband in front of her. She didn't react, although after the test, she killed Orlov (with a broken glass shard slicing his neck) and about a dozen other sleeper agents (that she had grown up with) who were present on the East River barge - their undercover headquarters.
Salt's second objective in the Day X plan was to assassinate US President Howard Lewis (Hunt Block) and trigger war. She gained access to the White House disguised as a male NATO officer - Major Vicek. A deadly attack was executed, causing the removal of the President for protection to an underground security bunker eight stories below the White House. She followed down the elevator shaft, and stealthily entered the secured area. Within the decision room, Winter shot and killed all of the attending personnel, but spared the President. Major revelations occurred:
Salt averted Winter from creating a nuclear disaster - he was set to launch ICBM missiles (using an atomic weapon activation controller dubbed "the football") from Trident submarines into two Middle Eastern cities (Mecca and Tehran) to trigger WWIII. Although shot in the process, vest-wearing Salt aborted the sequence. She was apprehended, blamed, and being transported away when she saw an opportunity to kill Winter - she garrotted him with her handcuff chains and broke his neck.
As she was enroute in a helicopter to FBI headquarters, she told Peabody why she killed Winter ("Because somebody had to") - because he was a trained Soviet agent. She also said she deliberately decided not to kill Matveyev or Peabody when she had the chance. Now only she could hunt down the remainder of the KA sleeper agents (trained and planted by Orlov). A text message confirmed that Salt's fingerprints had been found at the barge (affirming that Salt had killed Orlov and the agents).
In the film's unlikely solution, Peabody believed her enough ("Go get them") to release her to jump into the freezing Potomac River below and escape by running through the woods, to further her search.
"Evelyn Salt" (as child)
Salt with Orlov
Execution of Michael
The Mastermind 'Jigsaw' Killer Had Posed As a Dead Body in the Bathroom
In this psychological thriller, sadistic mastermind serial killer dubbed "the Jigsaw Killer" was again devising impossible live-or-die situations for victims (who lacked an appreciation for life). They had to make outrageous moral choices to survive in the trap-filled environments, while inflicting themselves with lethal wounds.
Two men were kidnapped and imprisoned in a large, sealed industrial bathroom:
They were chained by their ankles to pipes on opposite ends of the room. Between them was a dead corpse on the floor lying in a pool of blood from a self-inflicted gunshot wound (with a gun in his hand), along with tapes to be played by each man.
Lawrence learned from his recording that he had to kill Adam within 8 hours (by 6 o'clock) or his wife Alison Gordon (Monica Potter) and daughter Diana (Makenzie Vega) would die. Adam learned that he had to escape the bathroom - presumably both would use the hacksaws to saw off their limbs ("He wants us to cut through our feet!").
As the deadline approached, hospital orderly Zep Hindle (Michael Emerson), who was monitoring the two men with video surveillance, broke into Lawrence's house and attacked his family. Zep was planning to murder them if Lawrence failed to kill Adam by 6 am.
After Lawrence sawed off his own leg to break free, he shot Adam with the corpse's gun (but it was a non-lethal wound in the shoulder) and then crawled away for help (and presumably bled to death). When Zep entered the bathroom, Adam grabbed a toilet tank lid and bashed Zep to death. A tape revealed that Zep was also under the control of the "Jigsaw Killer" in order to save himself from a slow poisoning death and acquire an antidote.
The film's twist was that the true mastermind behind the entire scheme was the man posing as the bloodied dead body. The dead body rose up, removed some of his makeup, and revealed himself as terminally-ill brain cancer patient, John Kramer - the "Jigsaw Killer" (Tobin Bell) (Flashback: "He's a very interesting person. His name is John...an inoperable frontal lobe tumor").
As the killer left the darkened and sealed bathroom, Adam heard his words: "Most people are so ungrateful to be alive, but not you, not any more...Game over" - . Adam screamed back: "Don't! Don't! No!"
A Scanner Darkly (2006)
The Film Was a Treatise About Drug Abuse and the War Against It: Addicted and Psychotic 'Agent Fred' Didn't Know He Was Bob Arctor, or That Girlfriend Donna Was "Hank" - Her Undercover Plan Was To Get Him Addicted and Sent to New Path, To Produce Evidence Against It For Growing A Plant That Addictive Substance D Was Made From
Philip K. Dick's science-fiction novel was adapted by director Richard Linklater for his visually-incredible, black comedy conspiracy-thriller (filmed in computer-rotoscoped style). It told about the semi-distant dystopic future where 'Big Brother'-styled surveillance ruled, and a brain-deadening super-drug called Substance D had caused many users to become intensely paranoid with split personalities.
Keanu Reeves was undercover narcotics cop Agent Fred (his real name was Bob Arctor) called upon to reluctantly spy on his friends, including his drug-dealing girlfriend Donna Hawthorne (Winona Ryder). He was equipped with 24/7 holographic surveillance cameras positioned in his own house in Anaheim (Orange County). As he monitored the tapes of activity, he wore an identity-blurring, shape-shifting 'scramble suit.'
Arctor was slowly losing his identity, burning out, having cognitive brain issues, and acting psychotic and crazy because of his own addictive drug use in his undercover position. His drug of choice was the deadly Substance D. He was also having problems with Donna who refused his overtures for sex because of her own excessive coke use. Bob's druggie pal James "Jim" Barris (Robert Downey, Jr.) ratted on him to his boss 'Hank'. 'Hank' was revealed, while removing the scramble suit, to be Donna.
Donna, posing as 'Hank,' had conspired to have addicted boyfriend Bob Arctor committed to the New Path Recovery Center (at the Santa Ana residence facility), where he would be transferred to a farm to work with plants (including a blue flower, "the flower of the future," used to manufacture Substance D). He was to live in a cell marked 4-G and given a new name - 'Bruce'.
In the final scene set in a General Burger fast-food restaurant, Donna (now code-named 'Audrey') met with undercover agent 'Mike' (Dameon Clarke) (working inside New Path) who attempted to persuade her that it was necessary for 'Bruce' ("a burnt-out husk") to become addicted. He would prove their case by infiltrating into New Path and producing evidence against it, although his addiction was quite a cost to pay: "It matters when we can prove that New Path is the one growing, manufacturing and distributing." She replied: "He doesn't know and he never did. He didn't volunteer for this." She worried that he would never regain his former self. She also pondered Arctor's sacrifice that she caused: "We are colder than they are."
When 'Bruce' momentarily saw blue flowers hidden in a corn field, he commented: "I saw death rising from the earth, from the ground itself in one blue field." He plucked one sample to take with him to give to his undercover agent friends as evidence: "A present for my friends at Thanksgiving."
The film ended with an epilogue from author Philip K. Dick: "This has been a story about people who were punished entirely too much for what they did. I loved them all. Here is a list, to whom I dedicate my love." It listed fifteen individuals by name (one of whom was Dick himself) who were deceased or suffered brain damage, vascular damage, or psychosis due to drug abuse.
Ghostface Was Actually Two Killers: Sidney's Boyfriend Billy and Best Friend Stu
In the opening sequence of Wes Craven's satirical horror/slasher film, "Ghostface" taunted Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) on the phone with "movie trivia" questions, including: "Name the killer in Friday the 13th." When she insisted the answer was Jason, he provided the plot twist spoiler to the original Friday the 13th (1980) film: "...you should know Jason's mother, Mrs. Voorhees, was the original killer. Jason didn't show up until the sequel. I'm afraid that was a wrong answer."
The psychopathic villain "Ghostface" (due to wearing an elongated Halloween death mask-costume), who was systematically murdering individuals in the small California town of Woodsboro, was actually two individuals who both used a voice-changing device --
In the blood-soaked reveal, film buff Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) accused Stu of being the mad killer. His friend Billy responded: "We all go a little mad sometimes...Anthony Perkins, Psycho" (a quote from Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)), and shot and wounded Randy in the right shoulder. Billy explained to Sidney how his bloody T-shirt was covered in fake blood, as he sucked his fingers: "Hmm, corn syrup. Same stuff they used for pig's blood in Carrie."
It was then that Sidney learned that the two (Stu and Billy) had brutally raped/killed her mother Maureen Prescott exactly one year earlier, and framed it on someone else, Mr. Neil Prescott (Lawrence Hecht). In a crazed tone, Billy explained how they had no motive, except that Sidney's mother "was a slutbag whore who flashed her s--t all over town like she was Sharon Stone or somethin'...Your slut mother was f--king my father. And she's the reason my mom moved out and abandoned me." Because Sidney's mother had an affair with Billy's father and broke up his parents' marriage, he had sought revenge.
Stu pulled Sidney's bound and gagged father Neil from a closet, and described how they were planning to frame him as the "chief suspect" for the town's many murders: "What if your father snapped? Your mother's anniversary set him off and he went on a murder spree killing everyone." Billy and Stu would be "left for dead...Everybody dies but us" - and to look convincingly bloodied as victims, the two stabbed at each other. However, Stu's abdomen knife wound turned out to be slowly lethal ("You cut me too deep. I think I'm dyin' here, man"). When the two were distracted, Sidney escaped inside the house, wore the "Ghostface" costume, and injured Billy by stabbing him in the chest with the end of an umbrella. When Stu tackled and wrestled her, claiming: "I always had a thing for ya, Sid," she grabbed a vase from a TV cabinet and smashed it over his head. She then toppled a heavy TV set (suitably playing Halloween) onto him, mocking him: "In your dreams!" - it both crushed him and electrocuted him.
Suddenly, as Randy regained consciousness, a bloodied and unconscious Billy miraculously revived, punched Randy in the face, and lunged at Sidney. He attempted to strangle her to death ("Say hello to your mother!") and as he raised his knife to kill her, tabloid TV newswoman Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) shot him and he was presumed dead. As the three survivors staggered to their feet and looked down at his body, Randy cautioned ("Careful, this is the moment when the supposedly dead killer comes back to life for one last scare") - and Billy predictably came to life, but Sidney decisively shot him in the forehead (Sidney: "Not in my movie!").
The Screaming Skull (1958)
While Trying to Cause Rich Newlywed Wife Jenni To Go Insane and Kill Herself, Eric Was Attacked and Murdered by a Screaming Skull
In this B-movie horror hybrid of Gaslight (1944) and Rebecca (1940), newlywed husband Eric Whitlock (John Hudson) and his rich, unstable, neurotic wife Jenni (Peggy Webber) moved into the isolated Southern country mansion that Eric had inherited from his first wife Marion. She reportedly was mysteriously killed when she accidentally fell down a flight of stairs and cracked her skull open on a stone wall, and then drowned in a small pond behind the house.
Plotting to inherit millionairess Jenni's money, Eric tried to scare her, drive her insane and cause her to be suicidal. She had already been declared temporarily insane earlier after watching her parents die in a gruesome boating accident. He planted human skulls around the house and caused screaming noises - and then blamed the strange supernatural events as tricks played by the estate's mentally retarded gardener Mickey (director Alex Nicol).
In the shock ending, a real screaming skull/apparition attacked and murdered Eric by chewing on his throat when he tried to strangle the victimized Jenni. Questions inevitably had to be asked:
[Note: in the William Castle-like prologue and on poster advertisements, the producers promised to pay for the burial of anyone who literally died from fright from watching the film!]
Ethan Didn't Kill His Comanche-Abducted Niece Debbie, But Returned Her Home
Racially-prejudiced Ethan Edwards' (John Wayne) five-year long vengeful and hateful search for his Indianized-niece Debbie (Natalie Wood) finally ended when he grabbed her and lifted her into the air, as she defenselessly expected him to kill her.
But instead, he lowered her and swept her into his cradling, outstretched arms with the words: "Let's go home, Debbie." After returning to the Jorgensen's pioneer home, the tragic outsider stood for a few moments at the outside of the door as the camera pulled back into the darkened inside of the home - the doorway framing the scene.
Standing with his feet astride in a wide stance, he grasped his right elbow with his left hand, and then decided to remain behind. He turned away, and walked off into the swirling dust, as the door to the family home swung shut on him, making the screen black.
Sea of Love (1989)
The Killer Was Helen's Ex-Husband Terry, Who Had Stalked and Murdered All of Her 'Lonely-Hearts' Dates
Director Harold Becker's Hitchcock-like, erotic who-dun-it crime thriller told about workaholic, 42 year-old NYC, 20 year-veteran detective/cop Frank Keller (Al Pacino), a divorced man who was investigating a series of 'lonely-hearts' murders by a serial killer.
The film opened with a close-up of a spinning 45 rpm record ("Sea of Love") on a turntable, as a naked man named James Mackey (Brian Paul) appeared to be making love, but then was shown to have a gun pointed at him by an unseen assailant before he was shot dead. Each of the murder suspects was shot in the head and found face-down and naked on a bed, listening to a repetitively-playing 45 rpm record of "Sea of Love" by Phil Phillips ("Come with me to the sea of love. Do you remember when we met?..."). There were various clues: cigarette butts with lipstick on them, a set of fingerprints, and the singles want-ads themselves (rhyming ads: "Silver balloons, endless Junes, old rock tunes, let me put it in your moon," and "City streets beneath my feet, 4 AM the longest hour, the hunt goes on till the break of dawn for love, the rarest flower").
In order to catch the suspected female killer ("a psycho woman killing guys"), Keller also placed his own lonely-hearts ad in New York Weekly magazine ("Lady- I live alone within myself like a hut within the woods...") and invited each of the female respondents to a restaurant, in an attempt to acquire matching fingerprints. One of the suspects was a carnal seductress, femme fatale and wicked single mother named Helen Cruger (Ellen Barkin) who worked in a shoe store. Ultimately, Keller fell for her, as she dangerously aroused both his suspicions and lust. They experienced a tense, torrid tryst scene together in his bedroom after late night drinks and became a serious couple, although Frank kept discovering suspicious ties between her and the murders - especially after discovering that she had dated all of the lonely-hearts murdered men when he saw a posting of their circled ads on her refrigerator door.
After he told her "Catch you later," she emerged at his apartment in the middle of the night, appearing from the dark end of his hallway. She wondered whether she had been given the "brush-off." As she played the "Sea of Love" record for him and danced with him, arousing his doubts even further -- he handed her his own gun, asking her to finish him off: "Let's get it over with. I don't want to wait a couple more days. Let's get it over with, right now, Bingo...Want to f--k first and get me face down?" - and then ordered her to confess: "Tell me you did it. Tell me why you did it? I want to know everything, all right?" but she was speechless.
In the film's twist ending, Helen's angry 'creep' ex-husband Terry (Michael Rooker) lunged at Frank at his apartment door, screaming:
He was the cable TV man that Frank had questioned as a witness earlier. With gun drawn, Terry ordered Frank face-down on his bed and asked: "Did you have a good time with her last night?...Show me how you did it to her. You show me and I'll let you go...F--kin' bastard!"
Frank retaliated and in the struggle and bloody fight, Terry fell to his death after being thrown through the window. In the denouement, Helen described how she hadn't seen him in about a year, but Frank had learned that Terry had been shadowing Helen for eight months ("She had that nutcase over one shoulder, me over the other") - and had killed all of his ex-wife's 'lonely-hearts' dates (Mr. James Mackey, and Mr. Raymond Brown - and "Frank Kellogg" (Keller) was undoubtedly next).
In the final scene, Frank reconciled with Helen after telling her on the street: "It's killing me not seeing you," and they walked away to get a cup of coffee.
Secret Window (2004)
John Shooter Was One of the Split Personalities of Writer Mort Rainey; Rainey Killed the Detective, the Neighbor, and Both His Unfaithful Wife and Her Lover; The Last Two Bodies Were Buried in His Corn Patch
This psycho-thriller adapted from the Stephen King novella "Secret Garden, Secret Window" by director and screenwriter David Koepp, opened with a crucial scene. Murder and horror story mystery writer Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) discovered his unfaithful wife Amy (Maria Bello) in bed in Irv's Lakesider Motel with lover Ted Milner (Timothy Hutton). He threatened them with an unloaded gun.
Six months later, Rainey had retreated to his remote, upstate NY, Tashmore Lake cabin, while facing a pending divorce (settlement papers needed his signature) from his estranged wife. He was suffering writer's block (and sloth) when he began receiving repeated visits from a mysterious, psychotic and menacing stranger (wearing a black, round parson's hat) - a Mississippi farmer named John Shooter (John Turturro), who accused Mort of plagiarism and 'stealing' his 1997 "Sowing Season" story: "You stole my story" (the tale was about an angry man named Todd Downey who had decided to kill a woman who had stolen away with his love, and bury her "in the deep corner formed where the house and the barn came together at an extreme angle. He would bury her where his wife kept her garden. The garden she loved more than she loved him"!).
Rainey confirmed that Shooter's story was almost exactly the same as his own late 1994 "Secret Window" story. He also recalled how his wife Amy discovered their home's own secret window: "It's a secret window, and it'll look down on a secret garden." Mort was threatened by the stalker to provide proof of authorship (with a June 1995 Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine publication with his name on the story) within three days.
The first signs of trouble were the bloody death of his dog Chico with a screwdriver, and the arson of his own Riverdale Ave (NYC) house where ex-wife Amy was living. Shooter demanded that Rainey replace the ruined ending: "I want you to fix it...My ending. The one you wrecked...Mine was perfect...'I know I can do it,' Todd Downey said, helping himself to another ear of corn from the steaming bowl. 'I'm sure that in time, her death will be a mystery even to me'." Rainey suspected Ted as the one intimidating him: "Maybe that's why the guy calls himself Shooter. Ted wants me to know it's him. He's trying to intimidate me, he's trying to send me a message."
And then there were several more murders - committed by "John Shooter":
Shooter threatened Rainey with violence: ("I will burn your life and every person in it like a cane field in a high wind"). The UPS-delivered Ellery Queen Magazine had pages 83-98 sliced out - the exact location of Rainey's story, another hint about the film's fairly obvious twist --- the deranged and schizophrenic Rainey actually created the character or persona of John Shooter - "There is no John Shooter. There never has been. You invented him."
Rainey had instructed his demented, invented "Shooter" personality to kill the dog, commit arson and murder ("You didn't have the stomach to do it yourself, but you knew I did") - and his final task was to "Fix the ending" of his ruined story. When Amy arrived at the house, she found the word "SHOOTER" carved into his desk, other surfaces, and into the wall (SHOOT-HER) - an expression of his inner desire to murder her. Mort stood threatening her as southern-accented "John Shooter." He pursued her to her car, dragged her back into the house, and stabbed her in the leg with a screwdriver. He stood above her and said that his demented plan was Mort Rainey's idea: "I got a place for you...I got it all picked out." When Ted arrived, "Shooter" killed him with a shovel, and then while narrating the changed ending to his story, he killed Amy (off-screen): "'I know I can do it,' Todd Downey said, helping himself to another ear of corn from the steaming bowl. 'I'm sure that in time, her death will be a mystery even to me'."
Weeks later, the town's Sheriff Newsome (Len Cariou) was suspicious of Rainey, but admitted that he had no proof -- "but eventually, we'll find those bodies. We'll tie you to them, and you're going away." Rainey responded: "The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story, the ending. And this one is very good. This one's perfect."
His revised "perfect" ending mirrored real-life - he had buried Amy and Ted's bodies in the garden of corn outside and below the secret window of his cabin. Their burials were revealed by the film's final tracking shot out the window and into the garden, and the repeated story's ending heard in voice-over (with the additional inserted words: "every bit of her will be gone"):
Rainey crunched into an ear of corn grown in his garden.
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