A good twist ending makes you look back on the entire movie while shitting your pants. For example, remember at the end of The Sixth Sense where Bruce Willis is dead and no one saw it coming? It was so damn unexpected! Of course, who the hell would expect that the hero of a film wouldn't notice that his only speaking companion for months was a small, unsupervised child?
That kind of trickery is not a fluke, people. It turns out that sometimes in order for a film to really shock us with its ending it has to fudge the facts a little bit, and a twist is only a twist because it retrospectively makes no goddamn sense. Want proof?
#6. Skyfall -- The Bad Guy's Plan Depends on Events He Has No Control Over
The Plot Twist
In Skyfall, James Bond tracks his villain through a series of expert spy techniques such as attacking a train with a backhoe, getting shot, fucking feeding a dude to a komodo dragon, and just plain fucking. In the end, he is able to catch his man, a sinisterly foreign yet creepily Aryan ex-agent named Silva (Javier Bardem).
"Hey, Javier, we want you to play a villain."
"Sure, what kind of terrible hairdo will he have?"
But in a twist no one had seen since The Avengers (and before that, The Dark Knight), it then turns out that the villain intentionally got himself captured! It was all a plan to get to Bond's boss, M (Judi Dench), who was on trial thanks to Silva's machinations. Silva manages to upload a virus into MI6's system, escapes his cell, disguises himself as a police officer, and meets up with his henchmen to take out M at her hearing ... but not before crashing an expertly timed train right on a pursuing Bond's dome.
"Usually I'm the one railing people."
Hold On, Now ...
Before we go any further, yes, this is universally considered to be an awesome movie. It's just that any time a movie has the villain do the, "Surprise! Every action you've taken has actually played perfectly into my hands!" bit with the hero, it never really makes sense. And this is a great example -- when you walk through it from the bad guy's point of view, you realize that either Silva is an incredibly lucky bastard, or he's literally God.
The entire point of Silva's scheme is to kill M during her hearing -- he has two guys waiting for him with a cop uniform after he breaks out of MI6 specifically so that he can sneak into the courthouse and shoot her. Presumably he allowed himself to get captured (as opposed to just going straight to the courthouse) because he wanted to upload the virus into MI6's computers to distract everyone.
It was all a cunning scheme to show off his Hannibal Lecter impression.
Here's the thing: Silva's master plan began the moment he got captured, timing it so that he'd be in custody right when M was testifying. But he didn't turn himself in -- he was captured by Bond. So how could he have known when that would happen? Bond tracks a bullet shard in his shoulder to an assassin guy who has a casino chip from a casino where he sticks it to some lady who happens to know where Silva is. That's literally how it happens -- Silva had no control over that. How many days were those two fake cops standing there, waiting for Silva?
And then, when Bond corners him, Silva blows the tunnel at just the right time for a train to come crashing through it. How did he even know to set explosives in the specific time and place where James Bond would catch him? How did he know a train would be coming along at just that moment? He utters a little catchphrase in the split second the train crashes through -- imagine if the train had gotten delayed and they'd had to stand there in silence for 20 minutes until it finally came along.
#5. The Dark Knight Rises -- Bruce Wayne Magically Adjusts His Will Retroactively
The Plot Twist
We've all seen The Dark Knight Rises by now, right? Then you know that at the end of the movie, Batman appears to die when he sacrifices himself to save the city, going out in a nuclear explosion in the middle of the ocean (and that's the only realistic way Batman could ever die). The first twist is when we find out that he isn't really dead -- he just fucked off to Italy to stick it in Anne Hathaway.
Pictured with one of the two pearl necklaces she got from him.
But there's one more surprise before the credits: In his will, it is revealed that Batman left a little map to the Batcave to hero cop John "Robin" Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), strongly hinting that Blake will become the next person to don the black cowl. Or at least a thong and pixie boots.
Hold On, Now ...
At what point did Bruce Wayne leave that will? When Bruce's will is being read, the lawyer dude specifically states that it "was not amended to reflect his more modest estate." That means he hadn't touched it since he lost all his money, which happened right at the start of the action in the film, when he barely knew Blake. He hadn't even seen the guy throw a punch at that point.
"What are you like, a 38 ... 40 tall? Yeah, good enough."
But let's say that Bruce secretly added that part later in the movie and simply forgot he was bankrupt -- when do you suppose he had the time to do it? When the big dude with the funny voice was breaking him in half and throwing him in a pit on the other side of the world? By the time Bruce makes it back to Gotham, it's like Escape from New York in there: The city is ruled by criminals, so Wayne's lawyer probably had better shit to do than amend a will. After that, Batman only had one day to get his shit in order before his "death."
Most of which was spent preparing for this.
He certainly couldn't have done it after faking his death -- we know that the will reading happened right after that, since it's established that Bruce had fixed the autopilot only six months prior. Seriously, what kind of superhero entrusts his entire legacy to a dude he just met?
"Say, you wouldn't happen to have years of ninja training and millions in disposable income, would you?"
#4. The Empire Strikes Back -- If Vader Knew That Luke Was His Son, What Was He Waiting For?
The Plot Twist
It's maybe the most famous plot twist of all time: In what was the series' biggest Maury moment, Darth Vader is revealed to be Luke Skywalker's father, Anakin, after Luke had spent the entire first film thinking that Vader was his father's murderer. The touching reunion includes Vader cutting his son's hand off and Luke jumping into a void rather than spending more time with his dad.
In the end, Luke gets a killer hand stump and some light incest out of the deal; it turns out that love interest Princess Leia is Vader's kid as well.
OK, maybe the father thing wasn't the biggest Maury moment after all.
Hold On, Now ...
The "I am your father" twist is one of the greatest movie moments ever, so it's easy to forget that it makes no fucking sense.
For starters, when exactly did Vader find out that Luke even existed? This is an incredibly important moment the movies never show us. Remember, the idea was that Luke was stashed on Tatooine as an infant specifically to keep the Empire from finding out about him. Luke is still living in peaceful anonymity in A New Hope, so clearly Vader doesn't realize that Luke is there.
But why? You'd think he would have noticed at some point in the first movie that this kid with a passing resemblance to his own younger self happened to share his last name. The first mention of him as the "son of Skywalker" is in the second movie, when Vader suggests to the Emperor that Luke could be turned. So did they just now put this all together? For real?
"You should have followed the Rule of Two: condoms and a vasectomy."
Vader and the Emperor were about as smart as their Spaceballs counterparts if they somehow missed the fact that for 20 years, there was a kid living on Vader's own home planet, with Vader's own family, openly telling everyone that he was "the son of Anakin Skywalker." And it's not like Vader is too far away to visit home, after all -- he has no problem visiting in the first film, right?
Which went about as well as any family reunion has ever gone.
Let's say that Vader's secret good side just didn't want to get his son involved; what about the Emperor? Or how about the fact that if Luke is down there, surely that pesky Obi-Wan (aka the dude who put Vader in that breathing suit) can't be far?
Vader must be the least-attentive father ever ... which isn't exactly a stretch, considering that his keen sense of the Force didn't pick up on his own daughter being tortured right in front of him. Jesus, Vader, you could have warned her.
"Listen, don't make out with any dudes named Skywalker. Just ... just trust me on this one."