There’s nothing a seasoned cinemagoer loves more than a good twist. There’s few feelings that compare to the jolt of exhilaration the comes when a filmmaker has played out the story, drawing the denizens of the multiplex into caring about their characters, and nails the landing with a twist in the tale which leaves us reeling and reconsidering everything we’ve seen.
Sure, the last minute “throw-it-in twist” is the bane of many a director (looking at a certain Mr. Shyamalan in particular here), but good twists are set up throughout the preceding film and reward a patient viewer upon a re-watch by revealing small hints throughout the runtime.
So, this isn’t a list of nit-picks for the twists that didn’t actually make any sense when we thought about them. Instead, here’s a celebration of the movies that did it right, pulling the rug out from under us only to reveal they’d been setting up a surprise under our unsuspecting noses the entire time.
11. Verbal Gives The Game Away - The Usual Suspects
We couldn’t leave out one of the best twists in cinema history. Yes, the quality of films on this list may vary, and a lot of lesser flicks have been saved from the bargain bin by virtue of a clever last act reveal.
However, no one could claim that The Usual Suspects is anything less than a stellar thriller even before its mind-blowing ending. Taking cues from Tarantino’s twisty then-recent debut Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects anchors its clever unreliable narrator reveal with a stellar performance from Kevin Spacey as unassuming small-time crook Verbal Kint.
Hell, the film’s ending was so clever, half the cast didn’t even know the twist until opening night! Despite this, upon a re-watch, eagle-eyed viewers will note that the ending is more obvious than it seems.
Verbal looks up to the Lieutenant’s coffee cup as he mentions Kobayashi by name for the first time, and throughout the rest of his “confession”, the criminal glances throughout the room before offering the next location-based improv cue. It’s a small but noticeable detail planted throughout the performance, and one which warrants repeat viewings for this crime classic.