The Usual Suspects (1995)
The Usual Suspects is not your usual piece of noir. An eerie-sistible ensemble cast, enigmatic story, and explosive ending makes director Bryan Singer’s neo-noir piece a new guilty pleasure. Plus, there’s no dark alley scene with a confused man in a trench coat and fedora. It’s more inventive than that.
A boat explosion, a police line-up of con men, and a mystery man named Keyser Soze. None of it made sense when Customs agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) interviewed a cripple from New York nicknamed “Verbal” Kint (how creepy can Kevin Spacey get!?), but shortly thereafter, it all starts to fall together.
The “Fantastic 5” (Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio del Toro, Gabriel Byrne, and Kevin Pollack) makes one of the greatest ensembles I’ve seen in a crime drama, but it didn’t even win the 1995 S.A.G. Award for Best Ensemble Cast (but congrats to Apollo 13). What may have been a start to future creepy roles for Kevin Spacey (also his first Oscar win, for Best Supporting Actor), the most famous of which may be Se7en (released the same year) and American Beauty (his other Oscar win), The Usual Suspects shows Spacey and the rest of the cast in all their sinister glory. In addition, the late Pete Postlethwaite shines in his supporting role.
The gripping heart-stopping complexities of the story—Oscar-winning story, I should say, written by Chris McQuarrie—drive the film to its startling conclusion (it will be less shocking for film fanatics like myself, but don’t let that dissuade you). I won’t be cliché, but I will say that you won’t be leaning back in your chair much. On the technical side, The Usual Suspects uses some impressive sound editing with rounds of gunfire, some clever cinematography with shots of the group, and a few very interesting scene transitions.
Do you need more reasons to see The Usual Suspects? Well, this two-time Oscar-winner is ranked #25 on IMDb’s “Top 250” list, rated 8.7/10 by nearly 350,000 users and ahead of movies like Spacey’s Se7en, Taxi Driver, Citizen Kane, and even Forrest Gump. What more do you need?