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

Tin Cup (1996)

On the 18th Hole in the Final Round of the US Open, Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy Shot a Very Memorable 12 and Lost the Golf Tournament

The unconventional ending of this hit sports-related romantic comedy about golf told about how headstrong, middle-aged pro golfer Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy (Kevin Costner) threw away his chance of winning the PGA's US Open in North Carolina. In the fourth round of play on the 18th hole, he needed a birdie to win, and par to force a playoff ("This is everything, ain't it? This is the choice it comes down to. This is our immortality").

On the sidelines, his love interest, a clinical psychiatrist named Dr. Molly Griswold (Renee Russo), encouraged him: "Go for it, Roy! Just knock it on." Rather than getting to the green in two shots and playing it safe, he attempted a near-impossible, all-or-nothing shot. When his first shot landed him in the water hazard, his caddy Romeo Posar (Cheech Marin) wanted him to "go up there, we'll take our drop, we'll tie, we'll win it in a playoff," but Roy refused -- he continued to shoot the same difficult shot, missing each one and landing in the water hazard.

He broke the record for strokes, causing further consternation and embarrassment from the announcers and fans with each failure. Finally, Molly laughed hysterically and yelled: "He's crazy. Oh, God. He's right. You're right, Roy! Just knock it on! Let her rip!" On the twelfth shot (his last ball before being disqualified), he miraculously made the shot into the hole ("That was a twelve"), causing a massive celebration.

When Roy came to his senses, he realized, aghast: "I just gave away the US Open," but Molly put his reckless performance in perspective:

That was incredible. That was the shot of the tournament. My God, did you hear the people?...It was the greatest twelve of all time. No one's gonna remember the Open five years from now, who won, who lost, but they're gonna remember your twelve! My, God, Roy, it was... Why, it's immortal! I am so proud of you.

Smug, play-it-safe, conservative golfing nemesis David Simms (Don Johnson) told him: "I gotta hand it to you. When you go down, you go down in flames." Roy responded by kissing Molly and carrying her away, and also retorted with a smile: "Nice par, David."

Later, Roy was reminded that he was still an automatic entry for next year's U.S. Open, for finishing in the top 15 players.

To Die For (1995)

Suzanne Was Vengefully Killed by Mafia Hitmen Hired by Her Dead Husband's Father, and Her Body Was Buried Under Frozen Ice

In this thriller and media satire, icy blonde TV weathercaster Suzanne Stone Maretto (Nicole Kidman) seduced dim-witted infatuated loser teen Jimmy (Joaquin Phoenix) to kill her sweet-natured but obstructive Italian-American bartender husband Larry Maretto (Matt Dillon) on their first anniversary.

Later, Suzanne was killed (off-screen) by a "Hollywood producer" (a cameo by director David Cronenberg) who was hired by her husband's father Joe (Dan Hedaya) (with Mafia connections). She was later seen dead in a lingering closeup under the ice of a frozen pond where she was deposited.

Ironically, Jimmy's unassuming friend Lydia Mertz (Alison Folland), whom Suzanne always criticized as trailer trash, acquired fleeting fame for telling her side of the story on TV talk shows such as Oprah and Phil Donahue (in her own words):

But it's really somethin' when you think that I'm the one who's gonna be famous - Suzanne would die if she knew.

In an ironic scene immediately before the credits, Larry's sister Janice (Illeana Douglas) practiced her ice skating on the frozen lake (above the location of the frozen body) to the tune of Donovan's "The Season of the Witch."

Total Recall (1990)

An Ambiguous Ending - Possibly The Entire Adventure/Film Was Quaid's VR Travel Experience (With Implanted Dreams), or Alternatively, Quaid's Experiences as a Secret Agent Actually Happened and Were Real; Quaid Activated An Ancient Alien Reactor-Generator To Melt Mars' Core of Ice and Provide The Planet With Breathable Oxygen

This violent science-fiction action thriller was set in the futuristic world of 2084 (announced on the VHS-tape box cover). The film's teaser trailer hinted at the film's twist, as the narrator spoke: "Your mind. It is the center of your life. It is everything you hear. Everything you see. Everything you feel. It is everything you are. How would you know if someone stole your mind?"

The film's premise was that a construction worker Doug Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was experiencing recurring nightmares of exploring the reddish planet of Mars with an unnamed brunette, and almost dying when his helmet glass shattered. From news reports, the planet had deposits of the mineral terbinium, and a troubling mutant terrorist Resistance leader named Kuato. To fulfill his longings and "be somebody," Quaid chose to embark on an "ideal vacation" with a strange travel agency named Rekall, Inc. that offered "the memory of a lifetime," although he had heard rumors that if things went wrong, he could become lobotomized.

He chose an expensive 'virtual' trip to the human colonies on the planet of Mars, composed of two full weeks of detailed, "first-class" implanted memories valued at 899 credits ("private cabin on the shuttle, deluxe suite at the Hilton, plus all the major sights, Mount Pyramid, the Grand Canals, and, of course, Venusville"). The ending of the film was telegraphed by fast-talking Rekall salesman Bob McClane's (Ray Baker) pitch to Quaid about having an extra Ego-trip Memory Implant procedure. It would offer a "choice of alternate identities" during his trip, for 300 more credits. Quaid chose the fourth option, to be a secret agent (a "deep cover" operative) who would meet a beautiful "exotic woman" - and he was promised:

By the time the trip is over, you get the girl, kill the bad guys, and save the entire planet!

An additional feature would be the introduction of "alien artifacts" dating back a million years. The memory implantation procedure was supervised by technician Ernie (David Knell) and programmer Dr. Renata Lull (Rosemary Dunsmore). Ernie was tossed a disc, noting its dream title: "That's a new one. Blue Sky on Mars." Quaid selected the option of being paired with an athletic, demure and sleazy brunette (model 41A). Something went awry - Lull reported "another schizoid embolism" to McClane. Quaid yelled: "You blew my cover" before being tranquilized. [Quaid was referring to his memory of being a double agent named Hauser (see below)] Lull thought Quaid, by his rantings, had already traveled to Mars, although McClane thought: "He's just acting out the 'secret agent' portion of his Ego-trip." She sharply quipped back that it wasn't possible: "We haven't implanted it yet." She added: "Someone has erased his memory" - referring possibly to the "Agency." Dr. Lull was ordered to cover up and erase any of Quaid's memories about them or Rekall. He was dumped onto the street, with no recall of what had happened.

For much of the film, Quaid was the object of tracking and deadly pursuit by his boss Harry, his duplicitous wife of eight years Lori (Sharon Stone), and others. At first, Lori told him: "Those assholes at Rekall have f--ked up your mind. You're having paranoid delusions," but then tried to assassinate him, and claimed she and their marriage was only a 6-week memory implant: "They erased your identity and implanted a new one...Your whole life is just a dream." Evil Mars Federal Colony administrator Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox) and his brutish assistant Richter (Michael Ironside), who was sleeping with Lori, feared that Quaid's memory of his identity would return: "In an hour, he could have total recall...We should've killed Quaid on Mars."

Quaid learned that his real name was Hauser - he had been a Mars secret agent previously doing "dirty work" for the oppressive tyrant Cohaagen. After an encounter with a brunette on Mars, later identified as Resistance member Melina (Rachel Ticotin), it caused him to rethink and change sides ("I've been playing for the wrong team"), and join Kuato and the freedom fighters. Now that he wanted to bring down Cohaagen, he was targeted for reimplantation. Hauser made everyone on Mars believe that he had been captured, tortured, and killed, so that he could lead Quaid there to fulfill his mission. As Hauser instructed, Quaid flew to the Mars Federal Colony, and was led to the sleazy Last Resort sex club/bar in Venusville's red-light district to contact Melina.

Later in his Hilton Hotel suite, he met with Rekall spokesman Dr. Edgemar (Roy Brocksmith), who observed that Quaid was in the middle of his dream vacation: "You're not here and neither am I." He told Quaid he was monitoring him while he was strapped into an implant chair (reminding him "You paid to be a secret agent"). At the moment, Edgemar claimed that he was "artificially implanted as an emergency measure" to talk Quaid down and return him to "reality," since he was suffering from a schizoid embolism. He forecast the remainder of the film (and Quaid's experiences) with his statements, when Quaid threatened to kill him:

  • "The walls of reality will come crashing down" (i.e., the hotel walls literally crashed open after Quaid shot Edgemar; also the walls of the rebel's hideout were destroyed by Cohaagen's forces)
  • "One minute, you'll be the savior of the rebel cause, and the next thing you know, you'll be Cohaagen's bosom buddy"
  • "You'll even have fantasies about alien civilizations, as you requested" (i.e., during a mind-meld with psychic Martian rebel leader Kuato, a small baby-humanoid attached to a man named George (Marshall Bell), Quaid was instructed: "Open your mind," and he identified a giant alien artifact machine)
  • "In the end, back on Earth, you'll be lobotomized" - ("the walls of reality" would come down, and Quaid would be stuck in a permanent psychosis, until lobotomized to be brought back to the real world)

Noticing a drop of sweat on Edgemar's forehead, Quaid reasoned that Edgemar wasn't an implanted memory but a real person - and killed him - and his wife Lori ("Consider that a divorce!"). Quaid unwittingly led Cohaagen's men to Kuato, where the rebel leader was killed. In his last words, Kuato told Quaid: "Start the reactor. Free Mars." After Cohaagen captured Quaid, he revealed that Hauser was his ally and "bosom buddy": "Hauser volunteered to become Doug Quaid. It was the only way to fool the psychics." Allegedly, Quaid was used and set up by Hauser to lead Cohaagen's forces to Kuato. Cohaagen's final step was to restore or reimplant Hauser's memories to Quaid's body and mind (by erasing Quaid's memories) with a Rekall machine.

In the film's ambiguous ending after Quaid and Melina escaped, they were at the site of the alien device/machine (a terraforming reactor made out of terbinium - "Cohaagen's secret" - it would melt the glacier in Mars' core to provide oxygen for the planet). Melina and Quaid realized: "If Mars had an atmosphere, he'd lose control." After a shootout, and a face-off with Cohaagen who told Quaid: "You're a nothing. You're nobody! You're a stupid dream," an explosion spewed all of them out into the airless atmosphere of Mars. Cohaagen died when his eyes bulged out and face swelled due to the lack of oxygen, but Quaid and Melina managed to survive by breathing the activated machine's freshly-created oxygen. Melina gazed at the breathtaking vista with blue sky: "I can't believe it. It's like a dream," to which Quaid responded: "I just had a terrible thought. What if this IS a dream?" Melina replied invitingly: "Well then, kiss me quick before you wake up!"

As they passionately kissed, the screen faded to a brilliant white from the sun, hinting at previous hidden clues that the entire film was indeed a fantasy memory implanted by Rekall, as promised by the Blue Skies on Mars dream vacation. Quaid was either actually waking up, or maybe he had to be lobotomized to cure his delusionary state, brought on by a glitch in the programming? Was everything part of the VR 'dream' vacation implant? Or was what he experienced real? Did he get lobotomized (the flash of white light), to bring him back to the real world from a failed memory implant procedure that caused psychotic delusions and psychological trauma?

The Tourist (2010)

Tourist Frank Was Actually Who He Was Pretending to Be - Alexander Pearce

In this romantic paranoid thriller film directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, intrigue, romance, assumed identities, and espionage was evident, as summarized in the film's tagline: "THE PERFECT TRIP, THE PERFECT TRAP." An erotic relationship developed between the two main characters: scruffy Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) and mysterious flirtatious English beauty Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie).

At a Parisian cafe, Elise received enigmatic instructions (a note from a courier) from her ex-boyfriend/lover, a multimillionaire fugitive criminal banker named Alexander Pearce. It said: "Find a man and make them think he is me." She burned the note, and then as a ruse to distract and mislead the authorities, she boarded a train bound for Venice, picked out a strange gentleman who resembled Pearce, and caused the police to think that the decoy or fall-guy was Pearce. [In the story, Pearce owed back taxes amounting to £744 million pounds and was believed to have altered his appearance with $20 million dollars worth of plastic surgery.] She picked out vacationing US high school math teacher Frank from Wisconsin, in a supposedly chance encounter, and invited him to be with her in her elegant luxury hotel room in Venice. He was getting over a failed relationship from his past.

Frank/Pearce found himself pursued by both determined yet frustrated Scotland Yard Inspector Acheson (Paul Bettany), and menacing, sociopathic British mobster Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff) and his Russian thugs who were after him for stealing $2.3 billion. Midway through the film, it was learned that Elise was actually working for the financial crimes unit, but had been suspended. She was now working undercover in order to reveal the financial misdeeds being conducted by Pearce on the behalf of the mob, but instead she ended up falling for him. It now appeared that after meeting Frank, however, Elise was willing to do her job and hand Pearce over to them.

In the film's conclusion, Frank/Pearce opened a safe in the rendezvous room, revealing his knowledge of the code and his identity as Alexander Pearce. [The film begged the question: When did Elise know that Frank was Pearce? Was he testing her love for him?] The two took the bank records and money and departed, leaving behind in the safe a check for the full amount of the taxes owed. (Meanwhile, police detained a look-alike for Pearce (an Englishman that Frank/Pearce had been paying to be his clone.) With the tax debt paid, the case against them was closed. Frank and Elise (who quipped briefly about having to get used to his new $20 million dollar face) boated happily away to a new life together.

Triangle (2009, UK)

Guilt-Ridden, Insane Single Mother Jess Was Doomed to Repeat Events in an Endless Time Loop - She Both Observed Events As An Outside Witness At the Same Time That She Participated in the Events; Jess Was the Mysterious Masked, Murderous Crewman on the SS Aeolus When They First Boarded. She Also Realized That She Had to Kill Everyone on the Cruise Liner (Each Time She Went Through The Loop), Including a Version of Herself, In Order To Return Home Again to "Save" Her Son Tommy From an Abusive Version of Herself (and From Perishing in a Car Accident)

Writer/director Christopher Smith's psychological horror film was suitably scary, with taglines: "The Forecast is Evil," "A Passage to Hell," and "Fear Comes in Waves." The film's title was the name of a yacht, indirectly referring to the famed Bermuda Triangle. Although filmed in Northern Australia in tropical Queensland, it was set off the coast of Miami, Florida, one of the three points of the ominous triangle.

The paradoxical, mind-bending film paid some homage to Kubrick's The Shining (1980) with obvious references, such as the infamous number 237 (twice!), long hallway tracking shots, a ballroom with illusory food and drink, and bloody words scrawled on a mirror. . It also had similarities to other time-travel films at the time, including the superior Timecrimes (2009, Sp.), Moon (2009), the earlier film Primer (2004), as well as a horrific version of Groundhog Day (1993). The death of the seagull also had symbolic and foreboding significance as the harbinger of doom and death - reminiscent of English poet Samuel Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, when the shooting of an albatross before sailing brought back luck.

In the first lines of the film, diner waitress and troubled/disturbed single mother Jess (Melissa George) spoke to her autistic son Tommy (Joshua McIvor) - big clues to the entire film being a "bad dream" in a deadly cycle:

"You're just having a bad dream. That's all baby. That's all it was. Bad dreams make you think you've seen things that you haven't. You know what I do when I have a bad dream? I close my eyes and I think of something nice. Like being here with you."

During the credits in short flashes, there were lots of incomplete hints of future events or themes. A spinning lawn sprinkler watered some grass (in her front lawn). Jess collected laundry and picked up a toy boat. She cleaned up a paint spill, answered the door (her home was # 237) to find no one there (spoiler: another version of Jess rang her own doorbell but ran away), and threw a big black bag in the truck of her car (spoiler: the bag contained Jess' own corpse). Significantly, she told her son: "I cleaned everything away, sweetheart. Everything is exactly the way it was before." Later, she described her routine - a complete one-sentence description of the plot: "Every day is the same. Tommy likes things to be a certain way. If I do one thing differently, I lose him." She also expressed her overriding guilt: "I just feel guilty when I'm not with Tommy."

Jess (without son Tommy, who was strangely "at school" although it was Saturday!) was rushing to the nearby harbor to arrive at 8:30 am. She had been invited by her 30-something friends to take a sailing trip on the Triangle. As she drove to the marina, a white CGI seagull floated above her car. She met the others there, including:

  • Greg (Michael Dorman), boat captain, with a secret crush on friend Jess
  • Victor (Liam Hemsworth), a brooding and brawny hunk, living on the boat with Greg
  • Downey (Henry Nixon) and Sally (Rachael Carpani), a couple
  • Heather (Emma Lung), a friend of the couple, who wanted to set Heather up with Greg

The Trip On the Boat

There were a number of ominous occurrences as the boat hit open waters on Saturday for a short excursion:

  • Jess napped as the sail trip began; when she awoke, she told Heather: "I had this terrible dream" but couldn't remember what it was; part of the dream (of her future) was that she was awakened lying in the surf along a shoreline
  • the wind suddenly died down; a thunderstorm caused radio interference, and communications with the Coast Guard was garbled and full of static; they heard an unclear distress call (spoiler: the call: "Help me, please help me. She's killing everyone, they're dead. They're all dead" was made by Sally during another trip)
  • a mysterious, raging storm with high waves and winds surrounded the yacht; Heather drowned inside the yacht's cabin before the boat capsized and everyone landed in the water
  • the survivors hung on to the overturned yacht until the quick-moving storm passed; they came upon a deserted cruise ship (a ghost ship); a lone, shadowy, onboard figure (spoiler: Jess herself) slowly backed away from the rail as the castaways came closer
  • the old-fashioned ocean liner from 1932 was named the SS Aeolus (significantly, Aeolus was the Greek god of the winds and the father of Sisyphus, who "cheated death" and was punished. He was doomed to spend eternity rolling a rock up a mountain, only to have it roll down and start all over again)
  • Jess had a feeling of déjà vu ("I feel like I know this place, I recognize this corridor"); on the floor of a corridor, a set of car keys similar to Jess' was found ("These are mine. These are my keys")
  • a buffet was set up in the ballroom; a ship's clock was stopped at 8:17, the same time that Jess' wristwatch was set to, although it was about 11:30 am; Jess said she saw "someone" (spoiler: herself)
  • water was running in room 237; as Jess entered, there were multiple views of her in a mirror; there was a message scrawled in blood on the cabin's washroom mirror: "Go To Theater"
  • in the ballroom, a bleeding Victor attempted to strangle Jess; she subdued him by sticking her finger in the hole (?) at the back of his head, and he slumped dead
  • Greg was shot to death in the theater, and the couple accused Jess of killing him
  • Sally and Downey were also shot to death by a masked gunman (with a shotgun) in the balcony
  • the only one remaining, Jess chased after a masked figure (with a sackcloth boiler-mask and wearing the same shoes!) wielding a shotgun; during their struggle, Jess was told: "Whatever you do, you have to kill them. It's the only way to get home. You have to kill them. Kill them! Kill them! Kill them!" - before the shooter fell overboard into the ocean

Repeating Time Loop (On the Boat)

Things turned very strange when Jess (Jess # 1) saw herself (Jess # 2) and the rest of the group atop the overturned yacht, approaching the cruise liner once again and calling out for rescue. [She was the shadowy figure seen on deck] There was a repeating time-loop that she and everyone were apparently trapped in. The loop repeated itself once everyone on the ship was dead. Jess' intention was to modify the self-perpetuating loop, although she didn't realize that she couldn't alter the loop, because she was doomed to participate in the events. A few more versions of the same incidents were revealed in this loop:

  • Jess # 1 saw Downey's body floating in the water, covered with gulls
  • Jess # 1 was confronted by Victor; she told him: "Downstairs right now is a copy of myself...There are bodies all over this ship" (including his) but he didn't believe her
  • when Jess # 1 grabbed Victor and told him he was going to die, she accidentally pushed his head back onto a protuding spike, which impaled him and punctured his skull
  • Jess # 1 found multiple copies of pieces of paper (she had been through the same loop many times!), each saying: "If They Board, Kill Them All" (in her own handwriting); she heard voices in her head compelling her to kill the others
  • under a grating, Jess # 1 saw multiple copies that she had dropped of the necklace locket with a picture of Tommy - another hint that she had not broken the repeating time-loop phenomenon
  • in the ballroom, Jess # 1 (with a shotgun) came upon a bleeding Victor speaking to Jess # 2; Jess # 1 held the gun on herself (Jess # 2), whispering: "You're not me," but she couldn't pull the trigger, and Jess # 2 fled; Victor slumped down (a bit later, a blood trail led to the liner's railing where he had presumably fallen into the ocean)
  • Jess # 1 (still with the shotgun) came into the theater, and tried to defend Downey and Sally against the masked shooter in the balcony, who had already killed Greg; she told them: "It's starting over again...We can change the pattern. Don't you see? We change the pattern, we're not trapped. Then we get off this thing"
  • with Jess # 1 in a different area of the ship, the masked figure removed her mask to reveal another iteration of Jess; she led Sally and Downey to Room 237, where she wounded both of them with a knife; as Sally fled, Downey was brutally murdered in the room (Jess stated: "I'm sorry but I love my son")
  • Jess # 1 pursued a wounded Sally and pleaded: "That wasn't me"; Sally attempted to make a distress call before dying on deck, amidst dozens of other Sally corpses, where Jess # 1 promised that if she held on a little longer, the Triangle would return and they could escape
  • Jess # 1 watched from afar as Jess # 2 fought against the masked killer on deck, and threw the killer overboard
  • Jess # 1 watched as Jess # 2 noticed the approaching Triangle, and said to herself: "It returns when they're dead"; determined to save everyone (by not letting them board the ocean liner the next time around), she wrote in Downey's blood on Room 237's mirror: "Go to Theater"; Jess # 1 donned the costume of the masked killer (a black coat and burlap mask), then murdered all of the newest arrivals with the shotgun, but was then thrown overboard (after a confrontation with herself)

NOTE: It was no surprise that Jess was the masked killer. Even one of the film's posters gave it away. Axe-wielding Jess walked on the ship's deck - where her reflection in a pool of blood on the deck was the masked killer.

Repeating Time Loop (At Home)

Jess # 1 eventually woke up on a shoreline as if from a dream, hitchhiked, and returned to her nearby home. Jess # 1 witnessed an abusive version of herself losing her temper and beating Tommy for spilling his art paint. She bashed this version of herself to death with a hammer, and then comforted Tommy: "You're just having a bad dream...Bad dreams make you think you've seen things that you haven't."

With the abusive Jess' corpse in her car's trunk and Tommy in the car as a passenger, she drove to the pier for the sailing trip (passing a "GOODBYE PLEASE RETURN" sign), assuring him that the Mommy who was driving was "nice." A seagull struck the windshield and bloodied it. When Jess # 1 pulled over and picked up the dead bird to throw it into the ocean over an embankment, she saw multiple versions of rotting dead seagulls below her.

When distracted by an upset Tommy, Jess # 1 had a head-on collision with a garbage truck in the oncoming lane. Jess # 1 watched as a bystander as she saw the bodies of herself and Tommy lying on the road. A nearby mysterious taxi driver ("Just a driver") observed: "No point trying to save the boy. There's nothing anyone can do that's gonna bring him back. Can I give you a ride?" The taxi driver took her to the harbor, where he said: "I'll leave the meter running. You will come back, won't you?" She responded: "Yes, I-I promise."

Repeating Time Loop (On the Boat)

  • The boat trip began all over again

Jess with Tommy

Jess with Greg

The Masked Shooter

Jess # 1

Jess # 2

Jess # 1 (with shotgun)
Aiming at Jess # 2

Masked Figure

Masked Figure
Unveiled as Jess

Multiple Sally Corpses

Jess Killing Herself
in Her Own House

Multiple Dead Seagulls

Jess as Bystander
to Her Own Death
with Taxi-Driver

Trois Couleurs: Rouge (1994, Fr./Pol.)

Characters From All Three Films in the Trilogy Were Brought Together in This Film's Conclusion

The last film of Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy told of the emerging soulmate friendship and connectedness ("Fraternity", based upon the third color, red, in the French flag) between two characters:

  • Valentine (Irene Jacob), a fresh-faced, melancholy, delicate young Geneva Switzerland model
  • a Judge named Joseph Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant), cynically-indifferent, lonely, retired, and an eavesdropper on neighbors' telephone conversations

Valentine lived next door to a young man, aspiring judge Auguste (Jean-Pierre Lorit) who was a mirror character to the older Judge, living out exactly the same life he did 30 years earlier, with his girlfriend Karin.

In the surprise ending, Kieslowski attempted to provide witty closure and harmony to his entire trilogy. A news report on the Judge's television announced that there was a ferry disaster in the English Channel. Surprisingly, the apparent survivors were characters from all three films, including Valentine and Auguste.

This contrived yet karmic conclusion appeared to reinforce how things usually happened for a reason.

The Truman Show (1998)

Heroic 30 Year Old Reality TV-star Truman Burbank Suspected Everything Revolved Around His Actions; To Escape His Virtual Imprisonment in a Massive Film Set, He Outwitted the Film-makers and Overcame His Phobia of Water to Sail to the Boundaries of His Fake and Artificial World of Seahaven, Where He Exited Through a Door to the Real World to Locate Extras Actress Sylvia

Director Peter Weir's film was a prophetic, thought-provoking story rife with symbolism about pop voyeurism and processed reality, with the tagline: "On the Air, Unaware." The existentialist, biting social satire's themes were about reality TV, consumerism in a dystopia, loss of privacy and media surveillance. Megalomaniac, charismatic, beret-wearing, 'world's greatest televisionary' network owner Christof (Oscar-nominated Ed Harris) delivered an opening speech to the camera in the Lunar Room studio (hidden in the movie set's moon) about the world being bored by "phony emotions," while expounding the virtues of TV's The Truman Show and its "nothing fake about Truman" star:

We've become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We're tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there's nothing fake about Truman himself. No scripts, no cue cards. It isn't always Shakespeare, but it's genuine. It's a life...We find many viewers leave him on all night for comfort.

This was followed by fake opening credits for the show itself (Truman Burbank as himself, created by Christof, Hannah Gill as meryl, etc.). The film comprised 5 days in his life, from Day 10,909 to Day 10,913. The premise of the film was that a person - a good-natured Life & Casualty Insurance adjuster/salesman named Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) - was adopted by a TV network as a reality-TV star to film his entire life 24 hours a day without his knowledge with 5,000 concealed cameras. Truman's 50's era ever-smiling wife Meryl (Laura Linney) (actress name Hannah Gill) gave viewers a self-congratulatory interview as a star celebrity: "Well, for me, there is no difference between a private life and a public life. My life, is my life, is The Truman Show. The Truman Show is a lifestyle. It's a noble life. It is a truly blessed life." [A review of the entire show proclaimed: "An entire human life recorded on an intricate network of hidden cameras, and broadcast live and unedited, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to an audience around the globe."]

Truman first appeared (filmed with a microscopic hidden camera) in front of his bathroom mirror, and then as he was leaving for work, greeted his stereotypical black neighbors with the catchphrase: "Good morning...Oh, and in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!" He often spoke in cliches, e.g., "That's the whole kit and kaboodle." The first clue that he was the subject of a TV show was when a stage-light (labeled Sirius 9 (Canis Major)) fell and cracked on the pavement in front of him, although it was explained away by a radio broadcast as a part shed from an aircraft. The second clue was a malfunctioning rain shower that only doused him. [And there were two chubby security guards who complained about the camera panning away when Truman had sex with his wife Meryl.] Later, problems with his car radio's frequency provided him with a stage manager's account of his commuter route in town, alerting props and other actors (with screeching feedback on their earpieces) to be prepared.

The massive artificial set in Hollywood ("enclosed in the largest studio ever of only two man-made structures visible from space") was a biospheric-planned community built in an enormous soundstage with too-manicured lawns, perfect buildings and blue sky. It was located in the idyllic island town of Seahaven in Florida (voted "The Best Place on Earth" and "The Planet's Top Town"). [All the street names contained actor's names, and the first names of cast members were all names of movie-stars.] Interwoven in the show were advertisements for products: free-range Kaiser chicken, a Chef's Pal (grater, dicer, peeler all in one), Penn Pavels Beer, etc. to name a few. [Truman merchandising also ensured programming without commercial interruptions: Truman pillows, sweatshirts, plates, action figures, etc.]

Truman's dream objective in life was to see the world, explore and travel to Fiji on the other side of the globe ("You can't get any further away before you start coming back"). He suffered crippling flashbacks from his youth of sailing in a rowboat with his father Kirk (Brian Delate) when a storm struck and his father drowned, causing a water phobia (that kept him on the island). In his classroom, young Truman was also discouraged by his teacher from venturing out: "There's really nothing left to explore."

Two troubling events began to turn things around, when he realized that the 'world' he lived in revolved around his actions ("It feels like the whole world revolves around me somehow"), and everything was a hoax:

  • he thought he saw his 'dead' father dressed as a homeless man on the street, but he was quickly hustled away from Truman onto a bus [Truman's actor-'father' was angry about having been cut out of the script in the "Death at Sea" episode and the proceeds from the show 22 years earlier, although he was 'resurrected' from death and brought back in to keep Truman on the set]
  • a nighttime fling on a moon-lit beach with a flirtatious college student named Lauren (Natascha McElhone) (an extras actress named Sylvia) - wearing a "How's It Going to End?" button, ended abruptly when she was taken away by her angry 'father.' She had warned him with hints about his encapsulated life: "Everybody knows about you. Everybody knows everything you do. They're pretending, Truman...My name's not Lauren, it's Sylvia...The sky and the sea, everything, it's a set. It's a show. Everybody's watching you." [The 'Stolen Kiss' episode was recorded on a "greatest hits tape" - and also was broadcast as a flashback in one of the current episodes.]

It was a magical moment when Truman stopped traffic with his outstretched hand and saw a snack table for backstage crew behind an elevator. He discovered that his life of almost 30 years was being filmed, and he was imprisoned and manipulated within a choreographed setting with other actors, who had earpieces and were coached on some of their lines of dialogue by Christof. [In bars, homes, and bathtubs, viewers watched monitors broadcasting the show.] Becoming increasingly hostile, paranoid, crazed and skeptical, Truman's behavior caused his on-screen marriage to Meryl, a local hospital nurse, to slowly crumble (his actress-wife Hannah was upset by his unpredictableness and left the story), and the actor who played Truman's 'father' was brought back into the drama to keep him from leaving - he had only suffered from amnesia. Other major obstacles were invented to keep Truman from leaving to travel away to Fiji or anywhere else: major problems with flights at a travel agency with posters alerting customers to the hazards (!) of travel, an overheating bus to Chicago, traffic jams, a forest fire warning, and a potential nuclear power station meltdown. [Former cast-member Sylvia was part of a disgruntled viewership that joined a movement to cheer on Truman to escape: "Free Truman."]

An exclusive interview with Christof was aired on a talk show called TruTalk (a derivative spawned from the 30 season show), hosted by Mike Michaelson (Harry Shearer). Christof was introduced as the "designer and architect of the world within a world that is Seahaven island." Self-justifying Christof proclaimed about the repressive, closed-off town: "Seahaven is the way the world should be."

Truman outwitted the film-makers by sneaking out of his home and attempting to triumphantly escape the virtual prison of Seahaven by sailboat (named Santa Maria, one of Christopher Columbus' New World boats), to find his identi-kit representation of lost love Sylvia - his 'map'. The show was temporarily cut off, then restored as omniscient, God-like producer Christof ordered light ("Cue the sun") and summoned a torrential storm to prevent him. Fugitive Truman, nearly drowning and capsizing, cried out: "Is that the best you can do? You're gonna have to kill me." He ultimately reached the literal edge of the fabricated, enclosed set when his bow pierced the dome's painted and clouded blue sky, and he climbed a stairway. On an amplified sound system, Christof spoke to Truman with a "voice of God" speech, identifying himself: "I am the creator of a television show that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions." He claimed that Truman, the show's "star," was "real - that's what made you so good to watch."

Rejecting Christof's plea to remain in the artificial world (where he had "nothing to fear" - "You belong here with me") rather than venture into the real world (with "the same lies, the same deceit"), Truman smiled beatifically at the camera, and sarcastically uttered his cheerful catchphrase: "In case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!" He then took a deep farewell bow, and exited from the massive set through the stage door to freedom (to the sounds of Philip Glass' stirring "The Opening from Mishima") and a new existence. TV's Truman Show ceased transmission.

In the final scene, two chubby pizza-eating security guards viewing the show, now cut off, talked together about changing the channel (- "What else is on?" - "Yeah, let's see what else is on?" - "Where's the TV Guide?")

12 Monkeys (1995) (aka Twelve Monkeys)

Unstable Cole's Haunted Recollections/Memories/Dreams Were The Witnessing of His Own Death (as a Young Boy) During an Airport Shooting When He Was Mistakenly Gunned Down by Police While Pursuing the Perpetrator of the Virus - Dr. Peters

The film was a remake of the short French science-fiction film, La Jetee (1962, Fr.) in which a man from a post-apocalyptic future was sent back in time to rescue the future. He had an obsessive memory of a woman during a shooting incident at the airport. When he returned to that past time period, he found the woman but was killed. In his final moments of life, he realized that the haunting shooting which he witnessed as a child was of his own death.

In this similar circular story, time-traveling, mentally-unstable prison convict James Cole (Bruce Willis) was sent back in time from the virus-plagued, post-apocalyptic world of 2035 to 1996, to observe the past and collect information - and possibly create a better future. In exchange for being pardoned, his mission was to obtain a pure sample of the horrible virus that had killed 5 billion people and forced humanity to live underground (the surface of the Earth was unliveable), so that a cure might be found.

[Note: It was entirely conceivable that the film was an expression of Cole's deep psychosis. His initial belief was inaccurate - that an underground organization called the "Army of the 12 Monkeys" spread the virus. His recurring haunting dreams of an airport chase and shooting also plagued him.]

Cole's many time travels first went awry when he ended up in Baltimore in 1990 (rather than 1996) and was placed in a mental institution where he met eccentric, insane animal activist Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), the son of prominent virologist Dr. Goines (Christopher Plummer), and was treated by psychiatrist Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). The delusional Cole also time-traveled to the WWI era in France, and then to late 1996, where he and Dr. Railly eventually joined together in Philadelphia and she became his love-interest. She began to believe his story about a future virus plague.

By film's end, it was revealed that Jeffrey Goines and his "Army of the 12 Monkeys" were never the cause of the worldwide plague that was released in December 1996. They were instead just "a bunch of dumb kids playing revolutionaries" who freed wild animals from Philadelphia's Garden Zoological Society (and locked Dr. Goines in the gorilla cage) the night before Dr. Railly and James had donned disguises. He glued on a mustache and wore a tropical-designed shirt, and she dyed her hair blonde. They were planning to fly together to a dream vacation destination - the Florida Keys.

At the airport, they both realized that red-haired, pony-tailed bio-terrorist and "apocalyptic nut" Dr. Peters (David Morse), Dr. Goines' assistant for security, had just taken a sticker-covered carry-on suitcase through security in front of them that contained live samples of the deadly virus. When gun-brandishing Cole pursued the madman through security (with Dr. Railly not far behind), he was gunned down by airport police as madman Peters escaped and boarded his plane to San Francisco and other worldwide cities to unleash the virus.

Cole's repeated dreams/memories were now made clear - as a young boy (Joseph Melito), he had witnessed the shooting (and his own death), with his newfound lover Dr. Railly (from the 1990s) grieving above him - who at one point knowingly noticed young Cole when their eyes met.

The film concluded with Dr. Peters seating himself on an airplane (bound for Rome) next to a woman who introduced herself as Jones (Carol Florence): "I'm in insurance" - she was also one of the female scientists from the future who was guiding Cole's time travels. It was a hopeful sign that she would retrieve a pure sample of the virus and bring it back to the future as a backup plan to help save the world.

Twisted (2004)

SFPD Commissioner John Mills Was the Serial Killer - He Had Murdered Both of Jess' Parents, Her Ex-Lovers and Boyfriends, To Try to Prevent Her From Becoming Like Her Mother; She Discovered His Deadly Deeds and Shot Him Dead

Director Philip Kaufman's twisting thriller and murder mystery opened in foggy San Francisco, with Ashley Judd as short-haired SF police cop Jessica Shepard - her neck held at knife-point by a tormenting, psychotic serial killer Edmund Culter (Leland Orser), until she disarmed and handcuffed him. She was promoted to the position of Inspector in the Homicide division, now to be partnered with seedy Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia), replacing loyal black friend and patrol buddy Wilson (Richard T. Jones).

Self-important SFPD commissioner John Mills (Samuel L. Jackson), the former cop-partner of Jess' deceased father George, arrived at her bar-party and reprimanded her for improper procedures in her acclaimed take-down of Culter ("You almost f--ked it up...there's no more room for mistakes"). As her father's partner, he had functioned as her mentor and father-figure after her father's death when she was younger. During mandated counseling with police psychiatrist Dr. Melvin Frank (David Strathairn), it was learned that Mills had raised Jess from age six, after her father went on a killing spree 25 years earlier in the 1970s - he reportedly murdered Jess' adulterous mother (and her partners), and then suicidally took his own life. [To minimize the pain, Jess would tell people that her parents were killed in a car crash.] Mills told Jess that because of her father's "twisted" love for his wife, he "went off" after being told about his nymphomaniacal wife's numerous affairs.

Although she considered herself in "perfect mental health," Jess' unstable mental character (and her genetic disposition for sex and violence, with additional anger issues) was conveyed through her endless and adventurous pursuit of sexual partners every night in bars, after which she would return to her apartment to open her memento box and study B/W crime photos of her father's corpse (with a bullet hole in his forehead), and eventually blackout from extreme alcohol consumption.

Following in her father's footsteps by taking up his profession ("you've devoted your life to tracking killers"), the current homicidal victims (and suspected serial killer) that she was pursuing in an investigation with Mike happened to all be her own past one-night-stand bed-partners or ex-boyfriends - each with a single cigarette burn mark (a signature brand) on their hand - and Jess was suspected of killing them off during blackout periods. She told her doctor: "I pass out, and when I wake up, I think I've done horrible things...I'm my best suspect."

She realized that she had the "capacity to kill" and experienced violent dreams of killing all of the victims, telling Mike: "Everyone who kisses me turns up dead." She had "the fear of being the bad seed" because of her upbringing, and her father's reputation as a serial killer. Although there were various red herrings proposed, such as Jess' ex-boyfriend Jimmy Schmidt (Mark Pellegrino) (until he became the fourth victim) and her own partner Mike, the film's twists and turns eventually revealed the real killer.

Mills proposed that Mike had drugged Jess with the date rape drug Rohypnol and set her up as the killer. He also tried to pin the murders on Mike, claiming the cop had a girlfriend who had OD'd on the stuff. Mills drugged Mike's wine glass with Rohypnol, and planted evidence in Mike's place - a pack of Rohypnol and a Yawara (a Japanese martial arts weapon used in the killings, that Jess often practiced with), but Jess figured out the deception and held her gun on Mills. He confessed that he had told Jess' father about his promiscuous wife ("I told him she was f--king that hippie scum"), causing Jess' enraged father to kill her.

Mills branded Mike's hand with his cigarette, and then admitted that he had actually "killed them all" (all of Jess' lovers, and both of her parents). He told Jess that she was like her mother: "You have her disease. I've tried to cure you." Mills had killed Jess' mother, out of jealous love ("she was ruining my life...I loved her. I couldn't let her keep doing those things").

Mills and Jess faced each other with guns drawn in a tense stand-off on the dock's pier outside Mike's place (Mills: "I kill you. I kill a fleeing felon. You kill me, you commit murder"), when Jess revealed that she had phoned Wilson on her cellphone and he had heard the Commissioner's entire confession. Mills admitted: "You outsmarted the master" - before she was forced to protect Mike from being shot. Jess shot Mills in the chest, and his body was propelled backwards into the water, to float dead in the bay's harbor.

Holding her partner in her arms, Jess apologized to Mike: "I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I thought you were the guy." He replied, before passing out: "I am the guy. I'll see you later, stranger."

The Two Jakes (1990)

Kitty Berman Was Young "Katherine Mulwray" from the Original Film Chinatown (1974) - Real-Estate Developer Berman's Promiscuous Wife; The Disputed Real Estate Was Valuable, Due to Oil Deposits, and Sought By Both Rawley and Bodine; Detective Jake Doctored an Incriminating Tape to Hide Berman's Guilt (the Murder of Bodine) and Protect Original Land Owner Kitty; Terminally-Ill Berman Immolated Himself, Willing His Land to Kitty

Actor Jack Nicholson directed this sequel to Chinatown (1974) set in post-war Los Angeles. The main plot device in the convoluted film was an incriminating wire recording of a tryst that wasn't supposed to be fatal. It was recorded by LA private detective J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Jack Nicholson) for his client: real estate developer of B&B Homes "Jake" Berman (Harvey Keitel), to 'incriminate' Berman's 'unfaithful' wife Kitty Berman (Meg Tilly). She was allegedly having an affair in the Bird of Paradise Motel in Redondo Beach with Berman's own real-estate business associate Mark Bodine (John Hackett).

In the opening scene, Berman shot Mark Bodine in cold-blood as he fled into the motel's bathroom. In the tape recording, a mysterious reference to Katherine Mulwray between the two adulterers stirred up memories of the past for Gittes.

[Katherine Mulwray, the blonde teenaged daughter of the earlier film's tragically-killed heroine Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) - Jake's former client and lover, was sired by incestuous rape by her tycoon father Noah Cross (John Huston).]

By film's end, it was revealed that Gittes had been set up in the murder-for-profit scheme. The murder could not be considered justifiable homicide because Berman had deliberately killed his partner - he had a gun conveniently planted under a chair delivered to the room - in order to commit pre-meditated murder of Bodine, a capital crime. For business reasons, partner Bodine's will excluded his sexpot widowed wife, Lillian Bodine (Madeleine Stowe). Instead, the will named "surviving partner" Berman as the sole beneficiary of B&B Homes' enormously profitable real estate business (tract housing in San Fernando Valley).

Lillian's attorney Chuck Newty (Frederic Forrest) stated that his client was entitled to her husband's wealth if the murder could be proven to be pre-meditated. Did Berman plan the murder with his wife Kitty in order to collect money from the deceased partner's share? If true, this would also make Gittes an unwitting accomplice to murder. During convoluted developments in the plot, Gittes discovered that Berman's tract housing subdevelopment, located in an orange grove (the same irrigated location that Gittes visited in the original film), was also being surreptitiously drilled for its vast underground oil resources by greedy oil baron Earl Rawley (Richard Farnsworth), Bodine's business associate.

In a preliminary court public hearing regarding the recording, the tape was played, but the evidence was obviously tampered with by Gittes to hide Berman's cold-blooded guilt and to protect Mrs. Berman ("splashing Katherine Mulwray's past all over the LA Times wouldn't do anybody any good").

Red-haired Kitty was actually the elusive blonde Katherine Mulwray - which Gittes figured out when he realized that she dyed her hair red. Through various legal and title documents, Katherine was shown to be the original owner of the orange grove and of the mineral rights to the subdivision land, but was forced to sign over a quit-claim deed to the land solely to criminal nightclub owner Michael 'Mickey Nice' Weisskopf (Rubén Blades), Berman's gangster associate, on July 17, 1946. Bodine was blackmailing Berman about the real identity of his wife, threatening to expose her if she didn't sign over the mineral rights. In addition, Bodine was, as Berman jealously admitted, engaged in a real affair: "He was f--king my wife." That was the real motivation for killing Bodine.

Gittes perjured himself in court to protect the daughter of the woman that he was unable to protect in the first film. Berman also divulged to Gittes that he was terminally ill (with advanced syphilis viewed on X-rays and under a microscope, unsuccessfully treated with radium implants which were also causing cancer) - but had not told his wife Kitty about his condition. To ensure that she would definitely inherit his real-estate fortune (his intention all along) - he deliberately and suicidally blew himself up and ended his life in one of the development's tract homes by lighting a cigarette in the volatile, natural gas-filled environment after a shaky earthquake.

In the film's final scene, Gittes spoke to Kitty/Katherine about their mutual pasts as she left his office, in the final line of dialogue: "It [the past] never goes away." (Jake gave his belated answer to her earlier question: "Does it ever go away, the past?")

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The Four Enigmatic Monoliths Had Signaled Mankind to Make Further Evolutionary Leaps, and Transcend Bodily and Technological Limitations

Director Stanley Kubrick's work was a profound, visionary and astounding film (a mysterious Rorschach film-blot) and a tremendous visual experience. This epic film contained more spectacular imagery (about what space looked like) and special effects than verbal dialogue. Viewers were left to experience the non-verbal, mystical vastness of the film, and to subjectively reach into their own subconscious and into the film's pure imagery to speculate about its meaning.

The metaphoric, thought-provoking, grandiose, science-fiction landmark film included space travel to Jupiter, the mysterious appearance of four enigmatic monoliths, and the presence of the film's major protagonist - an omniscient super-computer. It was a three-act, visionary, visually dazzling, wide-screen masterpiece, with mind-blowing special effects.

The first black rectangular monolith appeared to prehistoric ape-men, awakening them to the use of tools as killing weapons. A second monolith on the Moon seemed to coax humankind to make further evolutionary leaps and transcend bodily and technological limits. A team of robotic-like astronauts Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Poole (Gary Lockwood), during a voyage to Jupiter to investigate a radio transmission, were terrorized by the arrogant, humanistic, on-board computer HAL 9000 (voice of Douglas Rain).

After HAL was almost completely deactivated, the disconnection triggered the playing of a pre-recorded televised briefing recorded prior to the Discovery's departure, previously known only by HAL:

Now that you are in Jupiter's space, and the entire crew is revived, it can be told to you. Eighteen months ago, the first evidence of intelligent life off the Earth was discovered. It was buried forty feet below the lunar surface, near the crater Tycho. Except for a single, very powerful radio emission aimed at Jupiter the four million year old black monolith has remained completely inert, its origin and purpose still a total mystery.

Was HAL deliberately entrusted with the secret about the mission - to follow the alien, high-frequency radio signal beamed directly to Jupiter by the monolith found on the Moon and explore the possibility of extra-terrestrial life - while the mission's purpose was purposely withheld from the astronauts?

Completely human and vulnerable without a crippling dependence upon the ship's computer, Bowman completed the flight to Jupiter alone to find the life-source of the Universe. Another striking orbital alignment, the giant planet Jupiter (lit up as a bright crescent shape) and its many moons, the spaceship Discovery, and the Sun line up with a third monolith that hurtled through space toward the moons of Jupiter. Bowman left the spaceship in one of the space pods to pursue and investigate the monolith orbiting Jupiter.

During Bowman's passage through a psychedelic light-show in the Stargate, he was mysteriously transfigured (or "reborn") into a higher form of intelligence or universe of evolutionary life on his way to the alien planet.

After seeing himself aging and dying, a fourth black monolith at the foot of his bed assisted Bowman in being reborn within an embryonic divine life form ("Space-Child") that floated in space.

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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