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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.
'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.
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.
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...
*** This review may contain 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.
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.
"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.
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.
The Usual Suspects is two movies in one. Enjoyable the first time you
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
few minutes, and the second viewing is interesting because when you know
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
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.
*** This review may contain 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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