The Usual Suspects CoverNow is there such a thing as "honor amongst thieves"? Well, if you think about it for a moment or two, there can't be, right? A thief is a person who is narcissistic by nature, duplicitous by means, and cruel by ways. So where is the honor in that? Huh? Maybe Bryan Singer knows? In this film he directed starring: Kevin Spacey, Garriel Byrne, and Chazz Palminteri. It was made in 1995, and last for 196 minutes.

The Usual Suspects

Picture the scene, the police arrest two criminal’s who have survived a fire on-board a ship, off of San Pedro Bay. Now the first criminal is a Hungarian speaking sod called Arkosh Kovash -- who is very badly burned and taken to a hospital for more treatment. Whereas the second criminal is a clumsy con artist with cerebral palsy called ‘Verbal’ Kint (Kevin Spacey) -- who is taken into federal custody and questioned by the police.

Very strange set of circumstances, I am sure that you'll agree. And that is why the injured Arkosh is forced to describe to a police sketch artist, a mysterious figure who is associated with this fire, called Keyser Söze. Whilst at the same time, Special Agent, Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri), likewise forces Verbal to tell him his story at the police station.

Now, the story that Verbal tells Dave, starts in New York City, where he meets four thieves in a police line-up, due to a crime committed in the area. First there is pretty boy, Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne): a former corrupt police officer who is currently trying to start a restaurant business with his lawyer lady-friend, Edie. Next, there is gruff talking Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollack): a surly motor-parts swindler and a pain in the ass too. Plus finally, there is the doublicious double-act of Michael McManus and Fred Fenster (Stephen Baldwin and Benicio Del Toro): a pair of professional thieves whose bite matches there bold bravado.

Very strange bunch of chaps in this very strange story, correct? Stranger still, is that later that same day, whilst together in a police holding cell, McManus convinces the others to join him and Fenster in a robbery targeting New York's Finest Taxi Service – which is a firm of organised corrupt NYPD police officers, who escort smugglers to any destination around the city.

And do you know what? Eventually all of these guys agree to take part in this devilish deed, and succeed in carrying it out to boot.

OK, when I say 'succeed', what I mean by this, is that they nab the 'Taxi Cab Service' in the act, they steal their loot in the process, and then they all travel to Los Angeles and sell their ill gotten gains to McManus' fence, ‘Redfoot’. However, in so doing, they also inadvertently arrange and carry out another job involving a robbery of a shoddy jewelry dealer as well.

Still, is this a good thing or what? Huh? Because does this 'job' work as well as the 'Taxi Cab Service' heist did for them? Errr... so-so I suppose. You see, when the guys pull off this subsequent snatch and grab, they discover that the specification initially given to them for this robbery is a 'little off’. And so when they query this fact with ‘Redfoot’ the following day, this leads them to the man who arranged for this ‘job’ to begin with. Some bald lawyer guy called Kobayashi (Pete Postlewaite).

Alright! Wait a minute! So who is this Kobayashi character? And does he have anything to do with that Keyser Söze chap, that Arkosh is forced to describe to the police from his hospital bed?

Funnily enough - yes - yes he does. He is his lawyer, and he's the chappy who blackmails the guys to pull off one last job for him - on-board a ship off of San Pedro Bay.

Oh! So that is why what next transpires begins when one of the guys ends up as dead as disco, huh? As paybacks a bitch - it's hard to get rich - careful of the death-switch - and never believe anything told to you by a lying snitch.

BOOF! And then, like that, he's gone.

My God! What a film! 'The Usual Suspects' is just one of those movies that just doesn't have any flaws in it whatsoever. The acting is brilliant and bold. The story is amazing and expansive. The direction is stylish and mannered. The music is moody and atmospheric. And the action is... err... well... OK I suppose!

Now I am afraid to say that I feel that director, Bryan Singer, hasn't really made a film of this high calibre since then. And this, I presume, is because he hasn't received a story like this one, or assembled a cast like this one either.

The Usual Suspects

Kevin Spacey plays Verbal to a tea - managing to play all the subtle nuances of a person with cerebral palsy, without it seeming too showy or fake. Heck, even when you watch this film the second time around, knowing the twist at the end before hand, it’s as though his performance is different somehow, making Kevin a living Rashomon on celluloid.

Baldwin and Benicio
Oh! And let’s not forget the rest of the cast as well, huh? Kevin Pollak and Stephen Baldwin play really convincing wise-guys as good as the next 'Goodfella'. Gabriel Byrne does the whole reluctant criminal act to perfection. And as for Benicio del Toro... wow... what an artistic git! He hardly says much in this flick, and whenever he does say something, it is difficult to understand him. Nevertheless, he steals each scene he’s in, just with a few mumbled words as a brash performance.

Also, a notable mentions go out to both Pete Postlethwaite and Chazz Palminteri. Although they both play divergent paths of the criminal spectrum, that is not to say that they’re performances are not of equal high standard.

Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects Art
Here, check out some of these filmic facts: (1) Keyser Soze was inspired by a real-life person who murdered his family and then disappeared for seventeen years, called John List. (2) There was a lot of trouble casting this film. The role of Dave Kujan was offered to Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Al Pacino, who all turned it down for one reason or another. Michael Biehn turned down the role of McManus. Tommy Lee Jones, Jeff Bridges, Charlie Sheen, James Spader, and Johnny Cash, all turned down the part of Redfoot. Plus Harry Dean Stanton turned down the role of Fred Fenster. (3) The police line-up was written as a serious scene, but the actors kept on messing about in it, and their goofs made it into the final film. (4) Stephen Baldwin got injured when 'Redfoots' cigarette accidentally hit him in the eye. This scene was left in for realism. (5) The word 'f*ck' is said 98 times in this flick. (6) The Stephen Baldwin and Kevin Pollack feud began on this movie because they are both a bit nut's. (7) All the actors were encouraged to ad lib confused reactions to Benicio Del Toro's oddball vocal styling's. Benicio decided to play it this way, because he knew that his 'job' on this film was to die, so it did not matter what he said. (8) Director, Bryan Singer, managed to convince every one of the main actors that they were Keyser Soze, so they were not sure what they were doing during production. Gabriel Byrne was so surprised when he first found out that he wasn't Keyser Soze, that he argued with Bryan. (10) "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing man he didn't exist" is a quote from the French poet Charles Baudelaire. (11) Keyser Soze was originally supposed to have the name Keyser Sume, named after writer, Christopher McQuerrie's, old boss. But his old boss didn't like the idea. And (12) I love this...

All in all there is nothing usual about ‘The Usual Suspects’. It is one of those movies that keeps on giving again and again and again. And I am sure that one day it will be held in such high esteem, that it will go down as being the film that gave 'plot twist' a new meaning. Class in a can.


THE USUAL SUSPECTS THE USUAL SUSPECTS Reviewed by David Andrews on January 30, 2011 Rating: 5
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