I remember seeing The Usual Suspects when it was first released in 1995. It begins in a kind of film noir setting, the music befitting the line of fire reaching across a boat to an explosion. I didn’t remember all the details of the story before watching it again for the Challenge, just the aha moments.
This time around, I can’t say I liked it any better. The aha moments were still there, but it grew tiresome with the explosions, gunfire, death and crime.
Actors who appear in this film went on to bigger and better films, especially for Kevin Spacey and Benecio del Toro.
Basically, you get five men in a lineup, supposedly randomly thrown together in a jail cell, where they plot their next big job. An unlikely grouping, there is Roger “Verbal” Kint (Kevin Spacey), a man with cerebral palsy that others think is stupid, Fred Fenster (Benecio del Toro), Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin; whatever happened to him?), Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), and Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollack).
Verbal gets interrogated by a couple of police officers, Jeff Rabin (Dan Hedaya) and Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) about an incident, and the story unfolds. Verbal narrates throughout the film, a device that doesn’t always work in a good film, but it does here.
Kevin Spacey won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance. I think the reason this screenplay won at the Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay is because it had so many twists and turns to the plot. Just when you think you know what’s going on, another piece of information arises from the police or a victim, or from Verbal himself. And there’s this man named Keyser Soze who comes up.
Who is Keyser Soze? You will wonder about this. Is he like the La Llorona legend in New Mexico? Kids are told scary bedtime stories about someone you don’t want to cross or you’ll have a stroke of misfortune. Someone who doesn’t really exist, just a phantom to give you nightmares.
Or if he really does exist, he is one bad dude and you still don’t want to cross paths with him.
This film received a lot of prestigious nominations for the screenwriter, Christopher McQuarrie, and included his winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The Usual Suspects is rated R for violence and a substantial amount of strong language.
Out of the films I’ve reviewed so far, I don’t recommend it. I’ll give you a list at the end of my 26 posts of what I do and don’t recommend for your edification.
I’m just tired of violent films with the f-word thrown around like it’s part of our language. Tired of gun battles and casual murdering of people, as bad as they might be. We need more screenplays that tell good stories about more realistic situations we may encounter, not like these criminals that most of us aren’t.
Did you see The Usual Suspects, and what did you think of it?