Wednesday 21 February 2024

The Usual Suspects - 1995 film review

I've mentioned The Usual Suspects a number of times on this blog over the years, although I've never discussed it in any detail. It's a film I enjoyed watching not too long after its release and I decided to take another look at it, to see how well it has held up, twenty-eight years on. The short answer is that it still seems pretty good to me.

Christopher McQuarrie won an Oscar for his screenplay, while Kevin Spacey won for 'best supporting actor'. Both Spacey and the director, Bryan Singer, have had well-documented issues in recent years, but I think it's fair to say that this movie remains a major highlight in their careers. Spacey plays the part of 'Verbal' Kint, a talkative guy with a limp who is a confidence trickster.

Most of the story is told via flashback and it's not always easy to follow. In essence, Kint is explaining to a sceptical cop the circumstances surrounding a fire on a ship in California, which followed a sequence of gangster killings of those on board. Kint and a severely injured Hungarian criminal are the only survivors. The tale unfolds suggests that the person responsible was a master-criminal called Keyser Soze whom nobody can identify.

There's a brilliant twist ending, which I enjoyed again even though I knew it was coming. Really, it's the twist that lifts the film out of the ordinary, even though there are excellent performances by Gabriel Byrne and Pete Postlethwaite as well as Spacey, and a number of good lines and visual images. A very clever idea, nicely executed. 


CLM said...

I saw it with a group of friends and if one of them hadn't provided at least some narrative, I don't think I could have followed it at all. I should also watch it again!

Martin Edwards said...

Yes, a second viewing is definitely worthwhile!