The Usual Suspects: Movie Review

When I first came to the United States of America, I was quite excited about snow.  Three years has passed since I saw the first snow and now snow no longer brings a smile on my face.   This weekend was no better with snow showers all through the north-eastern part of America.  With nowhere to venture out in such a harsh weather I decided to while away my time by watching some movie.  I was browsing my Netflix account looking out for some nice thrillers when I came across “The Usual Suspects” and zeroed on to watch it.

The movie is a 1995 American neo-noir movie directed by Bryan Singer and produced by Kenneth Kokkin, Michael McDonnell and Bryan Singer himself.  The plot of the “The Usual Suspects” is built in such a way that it has a mystery at its heart.

The movie takes off with a ship explosion on the San Pedro pier and the investigating cops discover 27 bodies.  The only survivors of the explosion are a very badly burned and scared Hungarian terrorist and Verbal kint, a crippled con-man played by Kevin Spacey.

The film vastly consists of flashback narrated by Verbal Kint.  Verbal, as he is called throughout the movie, is promised total immunity provided he assists his investigator, Customs Agent Dave Kujan played by Chazz Palminteri.  In the process, Verbal reveals the entire details of his involvement with a group of notorious criminals who are assumed responsible for the explosion of the ship and homicide of almost everyone aboard.  This group of notorious criminals are “The Usual Suspects” played by the classy Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), palsied Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), hardware specialist Hockney (Kevin Pollak),  entry-man McManus (Stephen Baldwin), and the mush-mouthed Fenster (Benicio Del Toro).

While Verbal tells his story, the Customs Agent, Kujan learns the name Keyser Söze from the FBI agent Jack Baer (Giancarlo Esposito) and demands Verbal to divulge all he knows.  Verbal then describes how he and the rest of the suspects are blackmailed by Söze through Söze’s lawyer Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite) into destroying a ship containing drugs belonging to Söze’s Hungarian rivals.  All the suspects but for Verbal and a Hungarian get killed in the ship explosion.

Finally, it is revealed that Verbal’s story is an improvised concoction, made up by stringing together the details culled from a bulletin board in the investigation room.

Though, “The Usual Suspects” puts in some fine twists, it does have a few flaws.  Though the movie keeps you glued for most of the time, the film takes its multi-layered riddle way too far sometimes hard enough to comprehend.  The other flaw which I found was the character of Keyser Söze and 1 hour into the movie, I was able to guess who the actual Keyser Söze was.  However, leaving apart all this, “The Usual Suspects” is funny, visually stunning and one of the blackest comedies.  All the actors play their pat with ultra-cool finesse.  Brownie points to Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Spacey for playing the role out of their skins.

Balaji Anathanpillai