Happy April Fools Day! There's a longstanding tradition of the movies hoodwinking us, so we thought we'd round up five classic films that pulled monumental twists we didn't see coming.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
1. The Usual Suspects (1995)
Directed by Bryan Singer (later of X-Men fame) and scripted by Christopher McQuarrie (who would later redefine the Mission: Impossible series), this is the gold standard of twisty rug-pull reveals.
McQuarrie's labyrinthine, Oscar-winning script relays the point-of-view of lowly criminal Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey, also the recipient of an Oscar). He spins a seductively gripping yarn to agent Dave Cuyan (Chazz Palminteri) about how he fell in with a group of vengeance-seeking wiseguys, all of whom realised the strings were being pulled by mysterious mastermind Keyser Soze.
The movie's devastating final reveal shows us that Kint was Soze all along – or, at the very least, he's not who he says he is. His gammy leg and limp arm reconfigure themselves as he walks away from the police station, before it all culminates in that chilling final quote: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that... He's gone." Even today, the sheer audacity of the twist knocks us back in our seat, leaving us reeling in the manner of Cuyan and his colleagues.
2. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Sometimes, having the big blind pulled on us turns out to be enormous fun. In the case of Steven Soderbergh's slickly entertaining remake of Ocean's Eleven, we actively willing the movie to stay one step ahead of us, so entertaining are the characters and so assured is the construction of its heist storyline.
George Clooney is Danny Ocean, the recently released convict who assembles a crack team to take down the casino of Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). This is personal, as well as professional: Benedict has stolen Ocean's ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts), and part of the film's pleasure is watching the villain get his inevitable comeuppance.
Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck and Elliot Gould are among the geniuses who manage to sneak Benedict's money out of his vault while wearing SWAT team outfits. The team had earlier rigged up a duplicate of Benedict's vault to his CCTV system, allowing them to sneak into the real thing undetected. By the time he realises, it's too late – and we find ourselves grinning from ear to ear.
3. Identity (2003)
Before director James Mangold helmed Logan, he turned his hand to this fiendish Agatha Christie homage, which has one of the most audacious humdinger finales we've ever seen.
The film is a riff on Christie's classic story And Then There Were None, as a group of disparate strangers find themselves stranded in a Nevada motel during a rainstorm. As members of the group start dying horribly, the survivors realise that the killer must be among them.
John Cusack and Ray Liotta are among the hunted, but the reality of the situation is far more complicated. It turns out that what we're seeing is a fantasy construct taking place inside the head of disturbed serial killer Malcolm (Pruitt Taylor Vince), whose psychiatric assessment is ongoing. Each of the characters in the motel is a manifestation of Malcolm's various personalities – and it turns out that the most dangerous individual isn't suppressed so easily.
Idiotic? Mind-blowingly clever? Opinion varies as to Identity's finale, but one has to admire the sheer bravery of the concept.
4. Saw (2004)
Forget the increasingly grisly and moronic sequels – the original Saw dials down on the gore to instead fashion an intense portrayal of psychological terror. When two men wake up chained to opposite ends of a decrepit bathroom, they come to realise they're pawns in the latest scheme spun by psychotic killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell).
As if the descent into the hideous, foot-amputating finale wasn't bad enough, director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell (who also stars) have saved one especially nasty surprise for last. In the bathroom, there's a body of an unidentified stranger, apparently dead – but, of course, he isn't.
At the end of the movie, Jigsaw rises from the floor to show Whannell's surviving character Adam that this was the plan all along. It turns out Adam had the key to his chains – but they were accidentally flushed down the toilet at the start of the movie. With the words "Game over", Adam is left to die in the room. Yes, a stiff drink was needed after this one.
5. The Prestige (2006)
Christopher Nolan adapts Christopher Priest's novel to fashion a multi-stranded, engrossing story of 19th-century rivalry between two warring magicians. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play Borden and Angier, two men obsessed with discovering the perfect magic trick that will fall their audience and, by extension, us the viewers.
Nolan's deviously dark and clever movie is in itself a meta-commentary on the construction of a magic trick. The film mirrors the three-act construction of such a trick, moving from the pledge to the turn and the eventual prestige, as relayed by Michael Caine's props engineer Cutter at the start of the movie.
Diary entries, flashbacks within flashbacks and multiple character reveals lead us to the jaw-dropping finale. In fact, there are two reveals: we discover that Borden is in fact not one man, but a pair of twins, and Angier's 'Real Transported Man' technique is real. The latter is where the heart of the story lies: Angier has purchased an apparent teleportation machine from revered engineer Nikola Tesla (David Bowie).
Naturally, those watching the movie think that something else must be going on when Angier appears to be able to clone himself, with one man dropping into a tank below the stage to drown, and the other appearing on the far side of the auditorium to thunderous applause. But the final, chilling shot of the film, the prestige, shows multiple Angiers in multiple tanks, quietly reinforcing the magnitude of his sacrifice as he pursues audience adoration.
As Cutter himself says in the closing narration: "You want to be... fooled."
What movies fooled you as you were watching them? Let us know @Cineworld.