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The most enjoyment you'll have seeing a movie for the *second* time
TIDQ8 September 2004
Ah, the Usual Suspects. My personal favorite movie of all time. Don't let my bias be a fool. Perhaps it's not THE best movie ever, but it's one that I never get tired of.

If you like flash and bikinis and breath-taking camera angles, you won't find them here. Usual Suspects is not an "epic," and it doesn't pretend to be. It's a modestly-budgeted piece by a fresh director (who later went on to do the X-Men movies, a FAR departure).

A great, gritty script, beautifully-acted characters, and what many have called the greatest movie ending of all time, are some of the shining qualities that make the Usual Suspects an object worthy of praise above its humble-looking shell.

The casting is very unusual but somehow fits perfectly. Gabriel Byrne is convincing as the ex-con trying to build a new life when he gets drawn back into his old life. Stephen Baldwin has the role of his career as the smart-mouthed and cocky professional. Kevin Pollak takes a big departure from his usual good comedy self to take a more dramatic role. Benicio del Toro literally takes a one-dimensional character with absolutely nothing in the script to give him character, and he fleshes it out with brilliant mannerisms and memorable mumbling to show incredible acting creativity. Kevin Spacey as we know him was born from this movie. His manners and fast-talking yet shy gimp nature are a treat to listen to throughout the flick.

Without giving away the plot, the best and most genius parts of the movie are the subtleties. After you see the ending, and the truth hits you like a ton of bricks, you have to watch it again. On the second time through, you'll jump up and point at the screen whenever you spot a clue you missed the first time. It's even possible to watch the movie multiple times and see something new with every viewing. It's that attention to detail that make the deceptively innocent-looking Usual Suspects one of the greatest movies of all time.
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A Modern Masterpiece...
TheShape_UK24 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
DISCLAIMER: Not seen 'The Usual Suspects' yet? Then don't waste any time reading this! Rent it, buy it, borrow it, I don't mind, but watch it before you bother reading any further.

One of the main reasons that 'The Usual Suspects' leaves such a long-lasting impression on the viewer is that it takes advantage of the gullibility of the audience. For the first 100 minutes we are delivered an intriguing and complex story to which there seems no easy answer. When the final piece of the puzzle seems to be in place the entire film is turned on its head. This final revelation initially leaves you speechless and then shortly after the audience realises that they have fallen for a brilliantly inspired trick. The second great trick that this film plays on its audience is making us think that by watching it again we'll be able to understand slightly better what was really going on. The truth is that the more you try to make sense of it, the more confusing it becomes. It's probably best not to try to look for any concrete answers and just accept that we fell for the filmmaker's tricks. The success of the film is mainly thanks to the sense of satisfaction the audience is left with at the end of the film. I think that people love the idea of a story when you're not sure who you can really trust, along with the realisation that the film's most shady characters are the filmmakers themselves.

Aside from the twist the film is also unique in the way the narrative is presented. The majority of the story is told as a series of flashbacks by crippled con artist Verbal Kint (a performance which deservedly won Kevin Spacey his first Oscar). The film's other Oscar went to screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (who also directed 'The Way of the Gun' (2000)) for his brilliantly constructed screenplay. It's a testament to the director, Bryan Singer that he was able to combine all these elements and turn them into something which is nothing short of a modern masterpiece. His moody and stylish direction help to bring the film together and perfectly complement the film's dark tone. A mention should also go to John Ottman for his skilful editing and amazing score.

The Usual Suspects is more than just a film with a clever ending. It revealed an awful lot about film audiences and showed us that their expectations can be used against them. It is also a film about story telling and the importance of myth. I think that one of the most valuable lessons that filmmakers can learn from ‘The Usual Suspects' is that the more interesting and intriguing your story is the more your audience will believe.

The Usual Suspects was certainly not the first film to contain twist ending (the twist ending became one of Alfred Hitchcock's trademarks) and was certainly not the last ('The Sixth Sense' (1999) also used this technique effectively but left more subtle clues for the audience to pick up on their repeated viewings). Despite this 'The Usual Suspects' remains one of the most innovative and memorable crime thrillers of the nineties.
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A stone cold CLASSIC!
Infofreak13 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
'The Usual Suspects' has received a lot of comment for its killer twist ending, which while by no means the first in movie history, has proved to be enormously influential (stand up Messrs. Fincher and Shyamalan...). But this movie is so much more than a surprise ending! It is a meticulously scripted, faultlessly acted masterpiece that stands up to repeated viewings. Every single time I watch it I notice some new detail, or get more enjoyment out of a performance or scene.

This movie really put Kevin Spacey on the map, but everyone in the ensemble cast is outstanding, even Stephen Baldwin(!), who has never appeared in a movie this good before, or since. I also got a kick out of the Paul Bartel ( 'Death Race 2000', 'Eating Raoul') cameo, and the ultra-cool Peter Greene's ('Laws Of Gravity', 'Pulp Fiction') all too brief appearance. Bartel is sorely missed, and Greene one day (mark my words!) will become the star he deserves to be.

Director Bryan Singer has yet to live up to the promise shown here with his subsequent movies, the average 'Apt Pupil' and the disappointing 'X-Men'. For all the acclaim he and the (admittedly superb) cast have received, the real star of 'The Usual Suspects' is Christopher McQuarrie's sensational script, one of the finest of the modern era, and one that genuinely deserved it's Oscar.

It really doesn't get any better than this!! One of the greatest movies ever made, any time, any where. A truly unforgettable experience.
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the American thriller of the nineties
dbdumonteil12 December 2005
One day in a bookshop, I flipped through a book entitled: "the movies of the nineties" and this movie wasn't included! How can a book specialized in cinema skip such a milestone of the last decade? Any movie buff, any cinema critic must have considered the nineties a fruitful era for the American thriller. According to one's tastes, some will say that the best thriller of the nineties is "Silence of the Lambs" (1991). For others it will be "Pulp Fiction" (1994) while others will praise to the skies "Se7en" (1995). For me, the pinnacle is this present movie, "the Usual Suspects" (1995) with its staggering story (to put it mildly). It's a sensational debut for Bryan Singer which enabled to put him on the map. With a little help from his accomplice Christopher McQuarrie, he signed an unparalleled gem in the landscape of the American thriller, even the whole cinema.

The average viewer who watches "the Usual Suspects" for the first time might think that the whole crew concocted him a meandering story with as a leading thread, Spacey's convoluted story. At the end of the projection, he may feel puzzled and will probably wish to watch the movie a second time. He won't regret it and Singer and McQuarrie will rejoice at it. Their masterwork gains by several repeated viewings to appreciate the subtleties of a rich movie with a convoluted construction which will take its seemingly definitive form in the five last minutes. To watch "the Usual Suspects" is like gathering the pieces of an intriguing puzzle, a little like any other suspenseful movie but in the case of Singer's flick, one will never really be able to completely end it. So many things happen in less than two hours that we are never really sure of what we watch and this is reinforced by a breathtaking unexpected twist at the end which makes our assumptions falter. Singer and McQuarrie take a mischievous delight in taking the viewer in their nebulous scenario and to follow it according to Spacey's declarations and it's obvious that they raise more questions than answers. It's up to the viewer to make his imagination work and to bring his thoughts on the film. This is what inspires its pernicious charm.

From Spacey's story, the authors developed a top quality script, set with clockwork precision. Singer's directorial style virtually evolutes on the razor's edge and conveys an increasing tension. It is filled with ingenious visual ideas and served by fluid camera movements. Singer was in his early thirties when he shot his film but it presents the signs of a seasoned author. There's also a tight editing and a unsettling score which cement the movie in its place of winner. More remarkable, the authors pull off with gusto to increase the audience's curiosity throughout the film in spite of a somewhat deliberate confusion and the interest won't weaken until the end which constitute the apex: an unexpected twist which will leave the audience speechless once they understood it. In Singer's flick, it doesn't disappoint because there are little but noticeable visual and verbal clues which justify it. However, it has something unsettling. We believe that we are at the end of the maze but there's more to the picture than meets the eye. Maybe this "coup de theatre" veils one more truth. Maybe also the shrewdest ones will have guessed it but the result is the same for any viewer: Singer puts a baffled spectator in his pocket.

Singer and Quarrie show a perfect master in the domain of the film noir: an ominous atmosphere, nocturnal scenes which stay rooted in the mind and a deep psychology of certain characters which give more substance to the film. Considering the last point, the character of Gabriel Byrne is the most interesting one: a former crooked cop who seemingly redeemed himself in catering but caught up by his past and forced to come back to work. I personally think that Byrne is the stand-out of the topflight cast the movie boasts. But don't neglect the other members. Kevin Spacey pocketed a deservedly Oscar in 1996 and the rest of the cast doesn't stay on the bench. Maybe Singer grants a little shallow attention to the three others baddies in the gang but in a way it's necessary to underscore the fact that they're lousy gangsters embroiled in a infernal spiral and unable to perceive what lies beneath all this. Pete Postlewhaite and Chazz Palminteri make their scenes count too.

A riveting storytelling, a painstaking flash-back, a tight and first-class directing, a thoughtful twist, a topnotch cast, "the Usual Suspects" includes almost everything a director would sell his soul for. Everything contributes to make it a stalwart model in the suspenseful movie and the whole cinema. After the first vision, be prepared for mental gymnastics and for a second screening...
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Better than the sum of its parts
tjowen16 February 2003
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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I'm Glad I Finally Got a Chance to See It
Hitchcoc8 December 2009
I don't know what the problem is. I had heard that this is an incomprehensible film. That when it ends we don't know what exactly happened. I thought that throughout the film we were in the loop, and even if we have an unreliable narrator, I suspected that from the start. Anyway, it's been a long time since I've been taken for such a joyride with such interesting characters, even if they are murderers and felons. The plot is woven so delicately and the threat is so interesting, that I was involved from the first minute. I always wondered how Kevin Spacey, a rather ordinary looking guy with a receding hairline, got to be so well known. Obviously, this is the reason. His performance is right on and he dominates the screen, even though he is a "gimp." There are so many layers in this film, but I don't think the screenwriter ever plays unfairly with it and it is quite satisfying.
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The Film That Made Kevin Spacey a Star
tfrizzell26 June 2000
"The Usual Suspects" is a complicated puzzle of a movie that I bet you can't watch just once. The film deals with five career crooks who have big plans after they are all brought together in a police lineup. However, their mayhem is interrupted by a mysterious character named Kaiser Sose who plans to eliminate all five of the crooks after they all crossed him in various ways during their checkered pasts. An amazing original screenplay and tight direction keep up a substantial amount of tension throughout. Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite, and Chazz Palminteri all give top-notch performances. But it is Kevin Spacey (in an Oscar-winning part) that makes "The Usual Suspects" work on all levels. This part put him in a higher class of actors and can be compared to Robert DeNiro's star-making job in "The Godfather, Part II". 5 stars out of 5.
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Not enough good things to say
Agent101 June 2002
Such films like this should be enshrined in museums, simply due to the fact it destroyed the entire genre of mystery films. While this film was unique and captivating, no other mystery will ever accomplish this sort of cult status, single handedly shaping a genre. While most mysteries try to shock you too often with twists and even more twists, it turns out to be overkill. This film encompassed such ideas with flair and originality, which is probably the reason Brian Singer is sticking to sci-fi action films. Only Memento and The Game are the only recent mystery movies worthy enough to stand beside this film. Sadly, Singer has somewhat sold out by doing the X-Men movies, but I guess trying to make films like this would be too taxing. This film will always bring a smile to my face when I watch it with someone who hasn't seen this movie. A good viewing every time I watch it, the new special edition DVD is awesome.
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" The Greatest Trick The Devil Ever Pulled"
thinker169112 July 2007
Out of the mind of Christorpher McQurrie comes this incredible story of a man in search of the devil. The film is called " The Usual Suspects" and what could be more appropriate than an unusual movie about five suspects who are anything but usual. The story originates with the only survivor of what the police conclude was a murderous and explosive drug deal gone bad. His name is Roger Kint (Kevin Spacey is perfect) also known as 'Verbal.' From the mouth of this innocent storytelling, con-artist comes the fantastic tale of how he and his fellow criminals, Stephen Baldwin, is Michael McManus, Benicio Del Toro is Fred Fenster and Kevin Pollak as Todd Hockney were originally assembled and then set-up. Beginning with a mix-up by law enforcement to put several guilty men together in the same line up, the tale proceeds cross country and culminates with a powerful, but mysterious kingpin by the name of Keyser Soze. It's through his attorney, Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite), the men learn they are marked for death unless they undertake a dangerous assignment. The center piece of the Unusual group is their leader, a remarkable individual named Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne, incredible performance). What transpires in this movie from moment to moment is a lesson in sleigh of hand. What we and the police Dave Kujan, (Chazz Palminteri) are told is not what we see. Conversely, what we see is not what we have been told. In the end, this film with it's haunting theme by John Ottman, is nothing short of incredible. A superb classic in both mystery and action entertainment, by Bryan Singer. A great film indeed. ****
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The best film I've ever seen
www.britneyobsession.com24 November 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Although the film is perhaps a little slow in fully developing, the consequent results are astounding. Spacey's performance is captivating and will only be fully appreciated once the viewing is complete. The supporting cast, including Gabriel Byrne, provide the basis for a convincing drama which will change the way you perceive crime thrillers in the future.

One is required to discover the identity of the elusive Keyser Soze throughout the film and if it were not for the well thought-out script and professional dramatic acting then the viewer would feel a sense of anti-climax. However, this is not the case; you shall be left speechless and wondering how the film achieved its goal.
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Excellent production, but relies WAY too much on the surprise ending--which may not even be a surprise.
scaevola2 January 2001
Warning: Spoilers
This film is basically a dark, sophisticated 'caper' thriller with the added twist that the main characters are rapidly awakened to the fact that they are being ruthlessly manipulated behind the scenes. The deeper they go, the more intense the experience. While none of these guys are admirable (in fact they are all clearly trash), you can't help but feel for them. They are just so in over their heads. And the puppeteer bad guy is a nightmare.

Unfortunately I guessed its 'big secret' almost as soon as I knew there was one, and am justly disappointed. It was nice to keep getting confirmation as it went along, but I would like to have experienced the final surprise. (And I am *sure* I'm not singular in guessing the ending.)

This film really relies too much on the 'wow effect' to make its major impression (read other comments for confirmation)--always a clue that a work of art is leaning *hard* on a crutch. Take away the surprise ending, and what do you have? In this case a stylish and well-produced film with a gaping hole. For example, compare it to LA Confidential. Even if you had guessed LAs secret before they let it out, it wouldn't spoil a thing--because that film didn't rely on a plot twist for its primary punch. It had a whole basket full of assets.

I'd give this movie a 7 if its secret had been better (and more creatively) guarded. As it stands, I give it a 6 for the excellence of the entire production and that fact that I was fairly well entertained. But I won't be watching it again, whereas LA Confidential will always be on my list.

********ABSOLUTE SPOILER *************** Agatha Christie first introduced this gimmick in 1926 with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Beyond that, the whole gig follows the classic mystery formula right down the line: Once we realize it's a whodunit (its clearly gotta be somebody we met, otherwise no punch), the obvious choice is the 'least likely one.' And there he is, perfectly disguised to fool you into not even looking his way--a good indication you should look his way. Another giveaway is that we have one guy telling the story and everything we see is from his eyes. Makes you wonder: 1) Why did only this guy survive? 2) Who says we are seeing the truth, except him? And the big one: 3) I'm supposed to believe a *con* artist? Not.
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A true thriller!
BobHalfa14 February 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen this movie many times and yet it still astonishes me every time I watch it. Even though I know the ending I still feel myself being caught up in the plot. It is possibly one of the greatest scripts of all time. I can't remember another movie in which I was completely astonished at the finale. The cast gives a tremendous performance. Kevin Spacey gives one of his two best performances (the other being as John Doe in Se7en) in my opinion. That is probably why he was awarded Best Actor for this role. It was truly deserved. Gabriel Byrne also gives a great performance. It may be the best character Stephen Baldwin has ever played. In all, this is a must for any movie collector or enthusiast.
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If plagiarism were a crime in film techniques, dir...
microcos8 August 1998
If plagiarism were a crime in film techniques, director Bryan Singer would be imprisoned for life. Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie would be serving a similar sentence. However, since it is not, Singer and MacQuarrie (who have joined forces again after the not-so-successful PUBLIC ACCESS) took advantage and duplicated nothing but the best. From CASABLANCA to PULP FICTION, and even a version of a line (intentionally or otherwise) from BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID.

Many people oppose watching a film with a twist a second time. I disagree. By watching it again you can observe how the director and the screenwriter have hidden and revealed clues, how they have tried to steer the audience away from the ending. First time is for entertainment. Second time is for art. This film is certainly worthwhile to see again. To date, I have watched it five times. (Two of those five times I thought, 'well, I'll just watch about half-an-hour,' but ended up watching the entire film because it is so entertaining.) I'm not exactly a noir fan, so it is assured that this particular crime film appeals to a wider audience.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS has a skilled director, an engrossing screenplay, and ten praiseworthy performances. The film runs a fast 105 minutes. Don't miss a minute of it.
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A Perfectly Crafted Mystery - (very ambiguous spoiler)
mstomaso4 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Kaiser Soze is a super-criminal of almost comic-book stature. Legendary among an underground of testosterone and nicotine-driven low-life 'usual suspects' of this film - Soze - remains unseen, fantastic, just outside of the camera's view, and detached from any reality we might call familiar or real. Nevertheless, he is the central character in the film, and the single force of will driving the entire film. The viewer, like the characters portrayed, must constantly ask 'Who is Kaiser Soze, does he even exist?", and - as silly as it might seem - "is he the devil himself?".

Soze's irresistible will is represented and enforced by an emissary (the stone-faced Pete Postlethwaite) who is just as cold-hearted as any of the hardened criminals who comprise 'The Usual Suspects'.

The narrative begins and almost ends as a retrospective with just a bit of very necessary voice-over narrative by Spacey. His character - Verbal Kint - is interrogated by Palmintieri concerning the murder of several hardened criminals in a single night aboard Russian ship. Most of the major plot points are highlighted wonderfully by the changes of pace and camera work afforded by the shift between one plot - the events leading to Kint's interrogation - and another - the interrogation itself.

Kint, physically disabled and emotionally disturbed, is himself a desperate, down-on-his luck, petty criminal whose chief talent seems to be getting mixed up with and attaching himself to more talented criminals. His latest 'friend' - Keating (Byrne) is a brilliant but depressive thief who is trying to straighten his life out for a woman lawyer he has fallen for. But along with the other 'usual suspects' - expert safe crackers, con men and sociopaths (possibly the best performance of Stephen Baldwin's career thus far) all - Keating is swept up into agreeing to do 'one final job'. In a fine piece of character interpetation, Byrne plays denial to the hilt telling himself that this job, if successful, could end his life in crime permanently.

These expert thieves, con men and killers meet in a bogus police line-up one night and from that point on, they are bound together under the control of Soze until they either succeed or fail in the crime he has laid before them.

Soze has been betrayed, whether directly or indirectly, by each of these men, and he leaves them all no choice. Accept the crime plan or die. They accept, knowing that their odds of success are, to say the least, very limited.

The entire feeling of this film shifts radically from the action of the main plot (described in Kint's narrative) and the narrative itself (Kint's interrogation). While this may look simply like a clever piece of film work, it is actually a very brilliant plot device, as both story lines are finally united in the stunning and brilliant finish.

While I am not usually a ready fan of mysteries, and even less interested in thrillers, this film was pure entertainment from start to finish.

Director Singer has established himself as a pioneer in ensemble cast direction, and this film alone (his third) should have awarded him that title.

The performances are, without exception, flawless. While flawlessness or some approximation of it is something I generally expect from people like Spacey, Byrne, and Del Toro, many of the folks in this film very much surprised me. I now watch out for folks like Kevin Pollak, for example. Without detracting from the performers whatsoever, some credit for the stunning quality of the performances must go to the director, editor, script and cinematography team. This film makes them all look positively great.

I was bitterly disappointed by the fact that this film did not take many Academy Awards in its release year. While I realize that the academy's choices do not always reflect quality or achievement, I prefer to maintain at least a superficial guise of hopefulness. The fact that Usual Suspects did not win for editing was the biggest shock. I can not think of a better piece of editing.
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BEST Thriller movie in the world.
liakot_a16 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Usual Suspects is one of the Best Mystery Thrillers in the world. It contains one of the greatest endings ever seen in any film. When i first saw this film, i understood 85% of the film. I had to watch it again, to recap on what happened earlier. After the second time i watched it, i realised this is a Superb movie with a fabulous twist. I have now seen this film about 20 times and seems to get better every time i watch it. Kevin Spacey delivers the greatest performance in his career. Gabriel is great, Benecio delivers a great performance with humour. Stephen is quite good in his best film. Pollak was impressive, Chazz Palminteri is a Superb underrated actor. Chazz looks ultimately smart and supposingly is a intelligent investigator. But Spacey turns out to be 10 steps ahead. Superb, brilliant and any other great ways to describe this film.
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Frighteningly excellent
Macca315 September 2000
Warning: Spoilers
The Usual Suspects, is, in my mind, one of the most fantastic pieces of film-making ever to grace our screens. That a group of people can come up with a piece of fiction that is so excellent in every way, from start to finish, is frightening. Who knows, maybe this film has no superior.

A lot is made of the film's ending. Not for a moment am I going to let slip what exactly that is. I would never deny another film lover the sheer sense of amazement that ran through my body when the film reached its climax. While not the film's only strong point; this is a masterpiece ALL the way through, the ending will blow you away.

The cast is, in a word, flawless. Kevin Spacey has, as far as I am concerned, never been better. He turns in a performance that is so moving and outstanding that he should have got three Oscars. But he is not alone. Byrne is fantastic, Del Toro adds continental flair, and Postlethwaite is disturbingly dark, yet calculated.

By all means watch this film, and observe its strong points, from Bryan Singer's masterful direction to the equally pleasing musical score. Prepare yourself for a rollercoaster ride and the best ending EVER in a film made anywhere in the world. I mean that.

Oh, and when you have finished; by all means, watch it again!


Nothing in life is 100% perfect now is it?
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Stylish crime drama with little content
bandw6 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
[**Major spoilers**] This movie began on a sour note in the opening scene with a man on an upper floor pissing down onto a ribbon of flaming gasoline on a lower floor to put it out. Right off we know that there is going to have to be some major suspension of disbelief.

The story line is not nearly as complicated as it is made out to be. Within the context of this movie, maybe that was a goal. I never did figure out what the deal was with the image of the rope heading into a rat's nest of junk that was shown several times.

A real problem for me was that the two main thugs in this were not at all threatening. The final plot twist only furthered this dissonance - it was kind of like finding out that behind the mask of Darth Vader we find Pee-wee Herman. And I felt manipulated by the final twist (that was in fact somewhat anticipated, after all Verbal was smoking his cigarette in the Turkish style). Are we to believe that Verbal boarded the boat and changed into a fedora and black overcoat to perform the crucial murder? What was the point of that besides trying to fool the audience?

And so many times in the exchanges between Verbal and Kujan, I felt I was watching actors rather than characters.

The bottom line on this movie is that it is no more than a tricked out episode of "Law and Order" without offering anything substantial to think about after it's over.
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At first, wasn't the biggest fan but.....
illbebackreviews27 February 2013
I couldn't help but set rather high expectations for 'The Usual Suspects' as I went into watching this. I knew this was no action movie or any of the crap we get nowadays. This was true cinema! I was excited 'The Usual Suspects' is a mystery film about what cargo was on board the ship when it was destroyed and the events leading up to it as we are told from the only known survivor of that accident.

Around 45-50 minutes into the movie, I was starting to find myself a bit tired and thought the movie may perhaps have dragged along just a bit. I was becoming rather disappointed. Then the film truly began to change in such a way that I find it rather hard to explain. The characters began to get a little more entertaining, the pacing certainly began to pick up, the dialogue was getting more interesting and overall, I was more excited.

Then comes the amazing final twenty minutes with the plot twist and the story finally closing in perfectly, making the story more understandable. However, the final 5 minutes of the movie are some of the best moments of movie ever made and that is the ultimate plot twist which surprised the hell out of me! It was a cheering end to what ended as a great movie and a movie I would be more than happy to check out again and again! A-
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"and like that...he was gone."
Vishal_s_kumar21 November 2009
Boasting petty criminal characters conceived so brilliantly they achieve near-mythological status, The Usual Suspects is known for riveting suspense and action, an intriguing plot line and a jaw- dropping twist at the end. It also features some of the most memorable lines of the 1990s: "How do you shoot the devil in the back--what if you miss?" The characters, Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Fred Fenster (Benicio Del Toro), Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollak), Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) and Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite) have real character details and cues.

The film is set in the aftermath of a ship fire that totally burns the cargo and crew. Though meek and disabled, Verbal is the only survivor to walk away from the incident unscathed. He is taken into custody and grilled by the police. Brilliantly played in a characteristic, understated style that earned Spacey an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Verbal is cleared and allowed to leave. But before he can go, agent Kujan from US Customs shows up to interrogate him. Kujan is trying to build a case against Keaton and he wants Verbal to testify in exchange for immunity. Verbal refuses, but Kujan still bullies Verbal into recounting his story of Keaton, McManus, Fenster and Hockney, leading up to the explosion on the ship.

What follows is a fantastic yarn of lies and half-truths sprinkled within the facts of the case. It is all masterfully portrayed as a series of flashbacks while Verbal and Kujan sip coffee and talk in the LA police station. The story begins six weeks earlier in New York City as Verbal and the other four criminals are brought in to stand side-by-side in a police lineup. None of them are formally charged with a crime, and there are indications Keaton has actually gone straight prior to the roundup. But before they are released, the five hatch a plan to get revenge on the corrupt NYPD and make a large sum of money in the process by robbing a police-protected jewel smuggler and leaking news of the police involvement to the press. Keaton is reluctant and must be coaxed into it with the promise that no one will be killed in the heist. He agrees and the quintet pulls off the robbery to perfection. The acting and writing take chances that pay off, with each actor fully immersing himself in his role. Del Toro creates a uniquely colorful persona in his portrayal of Fenster, Baldwin conveys a reckless abandon and lust for violence, Pollak shows steely courage and resolve, Byrne is a complex mesh of toughness with motives pulling him in all directions. Each actor is at the top of his game.

The five criminals go to Los Angeles to lay low in the aftermath of the New York heist. There, they are enticed into another robbery that is also supposed to involve no killing. Unfortunately, this LA heist goes horribly wrong. As Verbal recounts this carnage, its aftermath and the growing problems and hostility in the crew, agent Kujan receives a tip from one of his colleagues who has a survivor pulled from the water near the charred wreckage of the ship. The witness is badly burned and cannot speak English, but insists that the man responsible for the destruction of life and property on the ship is named Kaiser Soze.

Whether it is attributable to lies in Verbal's yarn or odd casting decisions, several characters in The Usual Suspects add to the film's mystique. Chief among these is the Irish Postlethwaite cast as the Japanese Kobayashi. There is a strong clue at the end that the name Kobayashi is used solely to mislead Kujan. But Kobayashi is not the only instance of a character's name failing to match his appearance. Another example is McManus' contact in LA, Redfoot, which one would expect to be the name of a Native American. But Redfoot appears to be caucasian. Again, at the end there is an indication that Verbal used Redfoot to avoid giving Kujan a real name. Strange ethnic inconsistencies crop up constantly. Kaiser Soze is said to be Turkish, possibly with a German father. These mixed-up character portraits add a layer of complexity to the plot, but one must always consider the source, Verbal Kint, and his motives.

The dynamic between Kujan and Verbal itself is pure entertainment. A kind of cat-and-mouse game, nuances are thrown into the proceedings that make it more interesting and add depth to the characters. Even the way the interrogation is filmed is unique. Verbal didn't achieve his nickname for no reason. He knows how to run his mouth and Kujan has a difficult challenge in corralling him. Underlying the interrogation is Kujan's suspicion of Keaton and his belief that Keaton manipulated Verbal. But Verbal is hard to pin down and Kujan occasionally resorts to bully tactics. But who is Kaiser Soze? Did he orchestrate the police lineup in New York, and pull all the strings ever since? Is the cargo of the ship drugs or only human cargo? Why did Verbal survive unharmed while so many others did not? Did Keaton really die, as Verbal insists, or did he slip away, as Kujan believes? Is Verbal telling the truth? Much is revealed in the final moments of the film, which wash over the viewer like an enormous wave of recognition. Snippets of dialogue from earlier in the film are montaged over the complex score, providing spine-tingling clues about exactly what part of Verbal's yarn was fact and what was fiction. The final snippet of dialogue, followed by a fortissimo string finale is especially powerful: "and like that...he was gone."
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A twisty classic
bob the moo4 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
After a gun fight on the docks leaves only one survivor with the majority dead, NYC agent Dave Kujan flies in to ensure that ex-cop Dean Keaton is really dead. During the questioning the survivor, Verbal Kint, tells of how events came to happen. Five criminals are brought together in a line up and decide to use the events to plan a job. However another survivor tells an extra story – one involving master criminal Kyser Soze. Kint reveals how the gang were forced into the fateful job by Soze – however who is Soze and why did the men try to steal what appears to be a ship load of drugs that didn't exist?

When I first saw this I saw it in the cinema – the very next day I went back and watched it again. The plot starts with a cliff hanger and appears to gradually answer the mystery - however what it actually does is create more questions for every answer it appears to give. It does this without frustrating you or without confusing the issue – in fact you don't know right till the end that you've been caught in a story teller's web. The plot unfolds like a normal thriller but it is anything but.

The strength of the film is in the writing but it is the direction that also manages to create a great mood. Singer uses clever shots weaving the story into a believable web of deceit. The cast add quality to every single line, every single scene. It's hard to imagine that the film could be the same with any one person changed.

Bryne is great as Keaton, his world weary cop drawn into a plan he can't control – or is he the master behind it all. Spacey gives a great performance as our eyes and ears as he retells the events, he deservedly won an Oscar for this role – before he got all soft and started becoming a starring man. Baldwin has the film of his life (albeit not hard!), he's really good and should be lucky to get another good role. Even the minor roles in the gang are great – Del Toro's performance is even better when you knew why he did it that way. Likewise Pollack will never have a better role – he has genuine tension between him and Baldwin (even in later interviews the dislike still seems real – with things like Pollack telling Baldwin he's sorry that his brothers stole all the food from his table). Palminteri does a great performance and is totally convincing. Postlethwaite is good despite playing an Asian (?) lawyer. Suzi Amis is good in her brief role and Esposito is as good as he always is.

Overall I could talk for hours about this film. It's rare for films now to have decent plots worth talking about however this manages it – it's still twisty and impressive no matter how many times you watch it.
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Ben_Cheshire8 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
(major spoilers - plus, if you're a fan of the film, you won't like my review)

I've never understood the fuss made over this movie - every time its been on TV i've watched the first five minutes, and rolled my eyes for various reasons (the first time it was Gabriel Byrne's accent, the other times it was how over-wrought everything was) and put something good on instead.

I've finally given it the light of day tonight, to the end, and my feeling is this: one minute of cleverness at the end does not justify putting us through two hours of over-wrought actors playing at cops and robbers.

The general situation is so very familiar - the crims who get together for one last job that goes wrong, and the way its told is not fresh either: the structure of the framing narrative in the present day and the flashbacks which take us back to a past event we want to learn the truth about, comes from Citizen Kane and Rashomon (ie, on its own does not make this movie original). The constant promise of a final mystery, which is intended to propel us to the end was invented by Orson Welles, and is a device used quite frequently (Citizen Kane, Rashomon, Go, Memento, The Exterminating Angel, and most movies, in fact).

For two hours this is a lot of posing, actors dressed in "slumming-it" costumes straight from the costume designer's wardrobe, cliche dialogue, unbelievable situations, one unsustainable haircut, stubble and a lot of brooding "i'm a criminal" close-ups.

There is a justified reason for all this falseness (aka pretentiousness), given in the final two minutes, which i can't even bring myself to say in case you haven't seen it and are still reading - i've had too many movies ruined for me. Save to say, like The Sixth Sense, this movie is a one-gimmick movie, and it takes watching it for two hours to find out that gimmick (which is the only possible explanation for characters having what i like to call Stephen King names, by which i mean they sound like someone has sat down and thought "What's a really cool name i can make up?" instead of names real people would have. Or possibly "what's the wackiest name i can give a person and have the audience not laugh" - if this was the case, they failed with me. Every time someone said "Verbal Kint," "Kobayashi," or "Kaiser Sosay" i couldn't help giggling) - i spent two hours rolling my eyes and two minutes saying "yes, that's clever, but if people didn't equate twists with quality then i could have enjoyed the entire two hours - but it would not have been this movie, which is nothing without its gimmick. I had the same problem with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - i need more than one gimmick to keep me interested.
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chucknorrisfacts18 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I'd heard people say what a great movie "The Usual Suspects" was for a long time, but never got around to watching it...until tonight. I discovered it was available to watch instant stream on Netflix and decided to go ahead and give it a go. I've got to say, I'm pretty disappointed in it.

Once again, I feel I fell victim to hype. People hyped this movie up to be awesome, and I just don't think it was. In my opinion, the movie was OK at best.

The performances were all good. It's just that the movie was so slow...I couldn't believe that it's running time was a slim one hour and forty-five minutes. It felt like it was about two hours and twenty minutes to me.

Then, I just felt the "big reveal" at the end was a little hokey. I mean, if you're that great of a criminal mastermind you would've had your BS story made up long before you ever entered an interrogation room -- for Kevin Spacey's character to have supposedly come up with the details for his story based off what he'd seen on a bulletin board...I'm sorry, but I've got to cry foul! If you've already got the story made up, you're not going to need to find inspiration for names of characters off a bulletin board, but I realize if he hadn't have gotten the names off the bulletin board, the audience wouldn't have really known he was lying the whole time. I get that, but I think the ending requires too much suspension of disbelief.

I'm sure most people who like this movie like it because of its ending. Maybe if you take it for what it is, at a surface level, it might work...but once you start digging a little deeper and actually think about what you've just watched...it's not that great of an ending.

I'll give it some credit for trying to go a different way than most movies of its type do, but that's about all I can really give it credit for. The movie itself was just really slow and didn't really pay off in the end, in my opinion, anyway.

I'd give it maybe a five out of ten. That's about all the more I think it deserves. It wasn't GREAT, it wasn't HORRIBLE...it was just OK.

You can check it out if you want to, but I wouldn't go so far as to say I'd recommend it. Take that for what it's worth coming from an anonymous movie reviewer.
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A Dynamic Script
jardinalli21 February 2011
From a directing perspective, The Usual Suspects is a flawless masterpiece with immaculate script writing and a rare show of top notch ensemble cast acting. Benecio Del Toro makes genius choices, Kevin Spacey was brilliant and I believe was handed the greatest of opportunities with such a will scripted role.

This movie really put Kevin Spacey on the map, but everyone in the ensemble cast is outstanding. Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio, Spacey....the list of appearances goes on and on and only sets the bar higher far any movie with a comparable storyline and cast.

Christopher McQuarrie's inspirationally written script, is one of the finest of the the cinema era. The Oscar was well deserved for this piece of work, unlike many politically nominated and won Oscars. This was acknowledged because the work lived up to the praise.
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The cake is a lie.
hovering_above27 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I love movies with big twist ending. I love movies that play with your mind and leave you completely confused until the very end where everything finally makes sense.

So I should like 'The Usual Suspects', right? Let's see: Confusing plot? Check. Big twist? Check. Point of the whole movie? NONE.

This movie attempts to be clever by blatantly treating you, the audience, as an idiot. I pushed through this boring, big mess of a movie expecting a huge final revelation that would put all the puzzles pieces together. In the end, the movie throws all the puzzle pieces into the fire and laughs at you.

*****SPOILERS***** (but really, don't bother watching, just read)

What makes a good mystery thriller movie? CLUES! You are supposed to leave clues for the audiences to pick up so that when they watch the movie for a second time, they can bang their heads and say "Why didn't I notice that the first time?" In this movie, there is NO CLUE at all. Keyser Soze could have been ANYONE of the characters. The audience could never really know who is Keyser because the whole time we are forced to watch the movie from Verbal's own flawed and purposely misguided perspective!

The 'twist' is one big joke. So Verbal is lying all the time? That's a twist? You dare to call that a twist? How brilliant! I could have never see that coming!! No, really. You could have never see it coming because there is literally NO WAY for you to see it coming; nothing is revealed until the movie almost ended. The only way you could have guessed is because, you know, "the weakest, least suspicious man is probably the killer!" What a cliché. The ending basically makes the rest of the movie completely pointless, and gives no reason for me to re-watch the movie again, because it would be like listening to a liar tell a story all over again.

The plot is another one big problem. The entire first hour of the movie could have been scrapped off and still makes the movie a coherent story. All the useless, boring dialogues, all the random robberies and gun shooting, did absolutely NOTHING to advance the main story or develop any of the character. Nothing relevant actually happens until the part where Kobayashi popped up and revealed the main plot about Keyser Soze and the boat hijacking. So, bad twist ending aside, the plot doesn't do the movie any justice either.

The acting? Nothing amazing. What Verbal does in nearly the whole movie is limp and talk, talk, talk while giving a straight and near- emotionless face. Casting any middle-aged balding actor as Verbal would have achieved the same effect. I can't say Spacey is a bad actor because I don't think he is, but his performance as Verbal is certainly not Oscar-worthy.

*****END SPOILER*****

I understand that movie ratings are subjected to personal tastes and perceptions. I can understand why so many people like movies such as 'The Dark Knight' or 'Reservoir Dogs' even though I find them highly overrated. But I simply cannot accept that a movie like 'The Usual Suspects' is hailed as "the greatest twist movie ever" even after 20 years, when there are so many better ones like 'The Sixth Sense', 'Memento', 'Fight Club', or the highly underrated 'Identity'.

Spend your two hours wisely. On anything. Just not on this movie.
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Ending Not a Surprise
perew27 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I was deeply disappointed by this movie. The alleged and hyped twist ending could not have been more predictable. As soon as the mystery character was introduced, I suspected who it would be. As the story unfolded, it was clearer and clearer that it could be only one person. In a bit of Sherlock Holmes logic, all the other options were eliminated and the final remaining choice had to be the correct choice.

We know from early on that the narrating character survives the opening sequence unscathed. That alone was a huge signal which spoils any chance of a surprise. The narrating character is revealed to be an excellent story teller, to be manipulative, cunning, and incapable of being truly frightened. Those are exactly the characteristics of the mystery character. Again, this made the ending obvious.

That the story is filled with 90% false information is disappointing. It's a fundamental violation of the compact between the storyteller and the audience. Perhaps if the twist were not so clearly communicated from the beginning, perhaps if there really was some thought required in getting to the ending, then perhaps it might have some shred of justification. Only perhaps, though -- In the end, almost certainly not.
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