ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER

a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Film Question --

I'm looking for examples of movies in which the main character, who we assume to be the good guy all along, is revealed in the end to actually be the villain.

I guess "The Usual Suspects" would sort of be an example. "Memento", in a way. Maybe "Angel Heart". Others?

38 Comments:

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Will said...

How about No Way Out?

 
At 3:04 PM, Anonymous kristen said...

aw, will, you totally beat me to the punch! and i thought i had such a great answer.

 
At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Training Day count?

 
At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Argo said...

High Tension (but it's a cheat if you really examine it).

 
At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

These may not be perfect examples but: Prestige (I've only read the script so, maybe they changed it), Unbreakable, Scream?

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Webs said...

You can say this happened over three movies or one, but how about Anakin Skywalker?

 
At 5:22 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Fallen (sort of)

 
At 6:10 PM, Anonymous argo said...

one more: the Others

 
At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fight Club, in a way

 
At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Shrader said...

PRIMAL FEAR has a really good flip. Not sure Ed Norton's really thought of as the "good guy" throughout, but certainly innocent.

 
At 8:00 PM, Anonymous taZ said...

Chaos (2006)<- not that good, but it has what you ask for.

Cry_Wolf <- recommend if you write thriller.

Mindhunters <- good if you write horror.

Matchstick Men <- recommend if you write drama/suspense.

Derailed (2005)<- same concept as Matchstick Men.

And more I need to use my brain in order to find. The comments to this post feel like a huge spoiler, kinda fun.

 
At 8:03 PM, Anonymous taZ said...

Oh!

And proabably one of the few really great movies released last year - Lucky Number Slevin. It's pretty much exactly what you're looking for, maybe even more than what you're looking for.

 
At 8:12 PM, Blogger Tracy said...

I'm not sure if Under Suspicion might count.

 
At 8:53 PM, Blogger James said...

Was gonna say PRIMAL FEAR, but someone got it. That twist hit me so hard. An otherwise mediocre movie.

For comedies... DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS

 
At 5:49 AM, Blogger TJ (Joshua) said...

The movie with Harrison Ford and Michele Pheiffer . . .

 
At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could've sworn I posted this yesterday...

The Da Vinci Code

 
At 7:49 AM, Blogger Emily Blake said...

I gotta say, the twist in Matchstick Men I saw coming eight hundred million miles away.

But how about Unbreakable?

 
At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seven- Brad Pitt becomes wrath

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger P. Barb said...

Cube?

 
At 10:44 AM, Blogger bc3 said...

I think a few of you are missing the mark on this question. It is not about a turn in the character but rather a reveal of the true self.

YES: (there was more rights then this but...)
Usual Suspects (miss direct)
Scream (miss direct)
Unbreakable (miss direct)


NO:
Seven (He becomes Wrath!)
Anakin Skywalker (He turns to the Dark side)
Fight Club (He never miss leads us, we always know who he is we just didn't know he had a split personality. And he's not really a villain, he's the protagonist from begining to end. He only fights his inner demons no one else)

 
At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frailty - although it can be argued that Matthew McConaughey was in fact good, not evil.

 
At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Thomas said...

I saw the twist coming in Unbreakable near the 30 minute mark. Usual Suspects is one of the best, recent examples.

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger Will said...

I'm also going to add Total Recall to the sort of list.

 
At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I disagree about Fight Club. We see Norton as a good guy all along. And technically, he is doing some pretty bad things. Which would make him bad...which would make him the bad guy...even if he didn't realize it.
The character doesn't have to be misleading us intentionally. Harry Angel in Angel Heart wasn't misleading anybody. He just didn't know. And that was Scott's example.

 
At 12:45 PM, Blogger Formerly, The Dude Spoke said...

Someone beat me to What Lies Beneath (The Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer one).

The Corruptor, with Chow Yun Fat and Mark Wahlberg kind of does the reverse.

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger Formerly, The Dude Spoke said...

Oh, and the Shawnee Smith character in Saw 2

 
At 4:47 PM, Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

Secret Window
Kiss the Girls
Dreamcatcher
Hide and Seek
Presumed Innocent
Harry Potter:Prisoner of Azkaban
Backdraft
The Pacifier
Monsters, Inc.
Toy Story 2 (the Prospector!)

 
At 6:39 PM, Blogger Scoopy said...

Psycho?

 
At 6:48 AM, Blogger The Moviequill said...

An Inconvenient Truth... bad George

 
At 10:00 AM, Anonymous ratskiwatski said...

Even better... "Charade" - he's good, he's bad, no, no, he's good...

 
At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Fallen" does constitute a kind of special case - our assumptions re. the protagonist are shown to be wrong (but in this case, the assumptions are that the visual protagonist, Denzel Washington, is the same person as the voice-over narration.) Once that assumption is destroyed in the final shots, we realize the apparently sympathetic narration has been the voice of the villain all along...

 
At 3:07 PM, Blogger Murph said...

If by "good guy" you mean protagonist, then you might try "Hide and Seek". Though for my money, that movie just proves why a protagonist should never turn out to be the bad guy.

 
At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Election. Broderick starts as honored teacher of the year, then ends up another disgraceful blurb in every newspaper across the nation.

 
At 9:37 PM, Blogger Systemaddict said...

Well...this doesn't apply to the question exactly...but it is an interesting twist on how one would percieve good characters being bad or vide versa.... The Prestige. IMHO at least.

 
At 11:09 PM, Anonymous baddog said...

The post citing The Others reminded me of another good example with a similar title - The Other - the creepy twins movie.

 
At 4:46 AM, Blogger Lab Lemming said...

LA CONFIDENTIAL!

Any movie with two Australians playing Americans deserves an exclamation point. Great flick, even if the chick was banal.

-C W Magee

 
At 6:52 AM, Blogger Danny Stack said...

Identity. I think I'm still the only person who loved the film...

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger mernitman said...

Damn, Lab -- I almost got to the end of my comment-reading thinking I was the lone genius who'd name "L.A."...

Scott, I'll thrown in the whole "Guilty Husband" sub-genre, from "Gaslight" and "Dial M For Murder" through "The Godfather," et al.

 

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