The Usual Suspects review

After that my guess is that you will never hear from him again. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that… he is gone.

These words mark the end of film number 24 on the top 1000 films of all time: Bryan Singer’s 1995, The Usual Suspects.

Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey) is the only survivor of five men in a heist gone wrong.  The five men were hired to hijack a $91 million of shipment of cocaine reaching the enigmatic crime lord Keyser Soze.  However, the hijacking goes wrong when four out of the five men involved in the heist are killed.

 Much of the film is in flashback, as U.S Customs special agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) questions Verbal about the job and the other men involved.  As Verbal goes into more detail about each man, his account of events becomes increasingly convoluted and complicated.  Whilst this did become confusing at times, it also made the film more engaging, as the audience found out more about each separate character.  The primary and secondary cast were great as well from Chazz Palminteri playing a detective who wants the truth to Gabriel Byrne playing Keaton, the leader of the heist crew, to Pete Poselthwaite, who is always great, as Keyser Sozey’s right hand man, Kobayashi.  

However, the best actor in this film is Kevin Spacey.  Up until the film’s conclusion, he tricks the film’s audience and Dave Kujan into thinking he’s nothing more than a stupid, pitiable cripple whom nobody takes seriously, when he is actually SPOILER ALERT, the enigmatic Keyser Soze.  This reveal was a great and a very unexpected twist. Up until this point, Kujan, and myself, thought Keyser Soze was actually Keaton.  However, it was Kevin Spacey’s subtle, yet powerful acting as a man too stupid to be trusted that really made the twist good.

As the story is told in flashback and jumps from character, the narrative becomes fragmented and disjointed, and I did get confused from time to time.  I also did mix up the characters a lot.  In fact other than Verbal and Keaton, I didn’t really know who the other men on the heist were.  

There was also a sub-narrative that saw Giancarlo Esposito playing another police officer trying to find the truth behind the heist by questioning another survivor of the explosion.  However, I don’t think this sub-narrative worked as I failed to see its relevance to the main narrative and I also didn’t like how it didn’t have a proper outcome.

A very intriguing story that was told brilliantly and had great acting, but it was also confusing in places and it has a sub-narrative that doesn’t go anywhere.

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