G-S-T Quick 5 – Replay Value on Movies with 'Twist Endings'

For a time in my life I was very much into the types of movies that had twist endings, and it was all I talked about.  To this day, my favorite movie with an “ah ha” ending is And Then There Were None (which is such a well done film – I really have to watch it again soon).  However, with so many films out there trying to give the audience a shocker ending or some sort of twist they’ve never seen before, unfortunately there are only so many ways to fool someone.  After a while, you end up with cliche endings that just seem like lame knock-offs of a movie you’ve seen plenty of times before.  But never fear cinema fans, there is hope!! There are a few cases of simply exceptional films that even though you know the ending, the movie is so well crafted that watching it over and over is still almost as exhilarating as seeing it for the first time.

What makes the films featured below work so well is that they are all layered very intricately and it is only after multiple viewings that you get to see the true beauty of the film’s composition.  The first time you see it, you are lured in by the premise and the plot then awed at the end.  The second time, you try to look for all the trigger points leading up to the “ah-ha”.  With every viewing after that, there’s always something you’ll notice that makes you realize that these films are cinematic masterpieces.  It’s only then that you appreciate the efforts that went it to making such a spellbinding feature…well I do anyway.  Below are the 5 movies I singularly love and am impressed with every time (almost like an Alzheimer’s patient) as the pay off is just as significant as the instrumental parts leading up to it.  They are all so well done that I could just watch these again and again and again.

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1.)  The Game – While most people I know don’t know about this film, it really is one of the best of it’s kind and a film where I believe is Michael Douglas is at his finest.  David Fincher is also at his best with creating his trademark eerie settings from otherwise non threatening locales.  All of this starts to make the viewer not quite sure if what you’re seeing is real or not.  Cloaked in layers and layers of deception, this film shows you that you truly can’t trust anything or anyone but yourself.  For years it has caused me to question and ponder the plausibility of how something so extraordinarily complex could be crafted “in real life” and how much effort would go into pulling it off.  By far, my favorite (aside from And Then There Were None) and most stylish twist ending of all time.

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2.)  Memento – Working the whole movie backwards was a pretty cool concept.  Truly the only way to do it otherwise there would really be no big surprise, as the twist isn’t that great at all.  But like a salesman, it’s all in how you package it right?  Guy Pearce, did a tremendous job of playing the victim and the perpetrator so well that you never really knew what was going on until the climax…which like I said, wasn’t anything without Christopher Nolan’s artisan-like “yrekcirt citamenic” (it’s backwards).

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3.)  The Usual Suspects – While most people would expect this higher on a list like this, I do believe The Game is layered better so this takes a solid number 3.  Bryan Singer shocked the world with the cinematic presence of Christopher McQuarrie‘s legendary villain Keyser Soze.  Without a doubt, this film has caused more late night college dorm room discussions than any other and when all is said and done, I don’t think anyone will really know if there is or isn’t a Keyser Soze.  “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist“.  Well played Verbal, well played.

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4.)  Los cronocrímenes (Time Crimes) – I’ll start off by saying this movie is not one with a twist ending, but an entire film filled with equally significant twists and I enjoy this film to no end.  Time Crimes, (much like Spielberg’s patented slow-reveal) never let on what it was trying to be until about halfway through the film.  But once it was established it was not what you thought it was, you spent the last half of the movie trying to find the hidden and layered things just to be able to catch up.  Much like everything on this list, the movie’s subtle brilliance comes from its attention to detail and it’s misdirection.  I’d equate this to the entire series of Lost, where just because you see something from one point of view, doesn’t mean it’s the only point of view.  “Wow” is about all I can say…or however “Wow” is translated into Spanish.

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5.)  The Prestige – Much like our number 2 entry Christopher Nolan is at it again with his slight of hand (no pun intended) story and camera work leaving you guessing all the way until the end.  This movie has such an impressive cast:  Bale at his near best, counter-balanced by a very charismatic Jackman (and David Bowie for good measure), this cat-and-mouse game of “Gotcha!….No, got you….NO, got you!!” truly kept you guessing until the end.  Even then you had to ask “what the hell just happened?”  From the very beginning (the top hats and cats), there were layered bits laid out in a series contributing to the complex story that at really did cause you to “have to see it again when it was over“.  Most critics write that about movies but this one fittingly deserved and earned that phrase.

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So there you have it.  Anyone want to comment?  Anyone think that another movie deserve the top spot or is better on repeat viewings?  Love to hear your thoughts…

Comments

  1. Man, I’ve had Timecrimes on my queue for ages now, I really have to get around to watching it. I think all those movies have great replay value as I’ve seen them all numerous times. Even though the shock value isn’t there after the first time around, they’re all really well-told stories and engrossing in their own rights regardless of the twist ending. Good article and great shout out for And Then There Were None – AWESOME movie.

    • Well, when you get around to seeing Timecrimes, you won’t be disappointed, promise!! Yeah, this list reminded me to watch ‘And Then There Were None’ so I’ll probably do that this weekend. Stay tuned for a review thereafter:) It also reminds me to watch and start reviewing all my old classic films like Casablanca, My Favorite Wife and Philadelphia Story.

  2. mcarteratthemovies says

    You referenced “The Game”! I thought only wacko obsessive raving Sean Penn fans like me had seen that movie!

    Sorry … my exclamation points got away from me there. They’re under control now, I promise. But seriously I am glad you mentioned “The Game” — no one remembers that one when talk of twist endings starts. It’s a hell of an ending, and one that pissed me off, then made me say something really profound and insightful like “whoa.”

    In general I’d have to say that twist-ending movies only lose their punch if the movie lacks important elements like great casting or editing, intriguing dialogue, etc. “The Usual Suspects” still kicks me in the teeth every time I watch it.

    • The Game is an undeniably great flick…I knew someone else out there had to have seen it. I would really love to see what the ‘final bill’ came out to be ;0)

  3. Twist ending is a tricky one and most have that ‘diminishing returns’ effect on repeat viewings. Sixth Sense is what a lot of people think of having twist endings, but I’m glad you mention The Game. Meredith, I saw that despite my um, aversion for Sean Penn, he..he.. but I quite like Michael Douglas so it balances out. It caught me off guard (in a bad way) at first, but then ended up liking it for the same reason it ticked me off, weird I know.

    I’d also put Fight Club and Primal Fear up on the list of best flicks with twist-endings. The good ones always make me want to re-watch just to see what details I’ve missed.

    • Now that you mention it, Fight Club did have a good twist-ending (another Fincher winner IMO). I personally like the bits and pieces of “Tyler” sprinkled throughout the film make it and The 6th Sense very similar.

  4. patrick says

    i dont know how you left primal fear off that list

    • I’ve actually never seen it. Does it stand up against the ones on my list? If so I’ll check it out for sure.