Spoiler Alert! The 50 Best Movie Twists

32. Cole's memories and dreams were the result of witnessing his own death as a kid.

Movie: 12 Monkeys (1995)
Writer: Chris Marker (original novel: La jetée); David Peoples and Janet Peoples (screenplay)

Leave it to eccentric, and often brilliant, filmmaker Terry Gilliam to send our brains into a frantic tailspin. By the end of 1995’s loony 12 Monkeys, it’s impossible not to feel mentally exhausted, thanks to the ambiguous plot—about a man from a desolate, post-apocalyptic future (Bruce Willis) who’s sent back in time to prevent the devastation from happening—and multitude of cerebral turns.

The craziest of which comes at the end, when it’s revealed that all of the batshit dreams and bleak memories that Willis’ character, James Cole, has been having are little more than hallucinations suffered by a much younger Cole right before he gets shot to death in an airport. Trust us, it’s no easier to decipher when you actually watch the movie, but, like all of Gilliam’s creative successes, that’s what makes 12 Monkeys such a singular vision. Albeit, one of pure madness.

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