The Usual Suspects (1995)

R   |    |  Crime, Mystery, Thriller


The Usual Suspects (1995) Poster

A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.

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  • Dan Hedaya and Chazz Palminteri in The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • Stephen Baldwin and Kevin Pollak in The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • Kevin Spacey and Gabriel Byrne in The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • Pete Postlethwaite in The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • Kevin Spacey and Stephen Baldwin in The Usual Suspects (1995)

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Reviews & Commentary

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16 February 2003 | tjowen
Better than the sum of its parts
The Usual Suspects is two movies in one. Enjoyable the first time you watch it, even more enjoyable the second time round. The first viewing asks questions that are answered in an `I could kick myself' moment in the final few minutes, and the second viewing is interesting because when you know the answers, the film becomes that much clearer. It requires a certain amount of commitment, though. Be warned, if you stop concentrating for a moment then the remaining running time of the movie will be spent trying to figure out how what you missed has lead to what you are now watching.

It concerns the story of five felons brought in by the police for a line-up and how those same felons reluctantly end up working for the mysterious and ghost-like Keyser Soze: a legend among the criminal fraternity, a man who no-one has seen and lived, a man so dangerous that he is thought to be the devil himself.you get the idea. The plot is rather intricate so I shan't bother to explain it here but it does rather make me think that Christopher McQuarrie, the writer, kept going to the office in the morning with yet another complexity to add that he thought up the night before. That's not to say it doesn't work, far from it, but it does leave you reeling from the sheer amount of information and names thrown at you from the offset.

Gabriel Byrne is good, but not flawless, as the tortured Dean Keaton who is torn between his career as a criminal and his forlorn attempt at trying to go straight, but his relationship with uptown lawyer Edie Finneran (Suzy Amis) is badly explored and I never felt it gave motive enough for his actions throughout the movie. Kevin Spacey is wonderful as the crippled Roger 'Verbal' Kint and is effective with the results both cunning and tragic. The real star of the movie, however, is a strangely accented Pete Postlethwaite as Kobayashi, supposedly Keyser Soze's right-hand man. He effortlessly plays a character of terrible coolness and poker-faced efficiency leading the dance that the rest of the characters must follow.

Director Bryan Singer has done well to bring such a momentous and involved screenplay to life and any gripes I may have cannot detract from the fact that the film, as a whole, is much better than the sum of its parts.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The role of Kujan was initially written with Chazz Palminteri in mind. However, when he proved unavailable, the role was offered to Christopher Walken, Clark Gregg, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, the latter being rather interested in playing the part. Pacino later decided against it, as he had just played a cop in Heat (1995). When Chazz Palminteri finally became available, it was only for a week. Clark Gregg ended up playing the part of Dr. Walters.


Quotes

Keyser Soze: How you doing Keaton?
Keaton: I can't feel my legs... Keyser.


Goofs

During the line-up scene, as the suspects enter the line-up booth, a microphone can be seen above Hockney's position. This is a standard feature of police line-up booths. (In some releases of the movie this is not visible because the scene has been cropped vertically to change its aspect ratio.)


Crazy Credits

The editor, John Ottman, edited the movie on film. He felt that all the editing done electronically at the time was horrible because all the good editors were still working on film (which is much more difficult). Because of this he thought about putting "Edited on a piece of s*** Steenbeck" at the end of the credits, but instead settled for the more subtle line "Edited on film." Tim Robbins was directing 'Dead Man Walking' at the time and heard about John's idea, which sparked that film's credit ending of "This film was edited on old machines."


Alternate Versions

When Redfoot hits McMannus with his cigarette, there is a reaction shot of Verbal looking surprised and scared. In the Special Edition it is changed to a reaction shot of Fenster.


Soundtracks

Old MacDonald Had a Farm
(uncredited)
[Tradition American nursery rhyme first published in 1916]
Parody version performed by
Stephen Baldwin

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Crime | Mystery | Thriller

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