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The Usual Suspects

A 1995 American neo-noir film starring Kevin Spacey directed by Bryan Singer

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Usual Suspects ~ Who IS Kayser Soze? BABTTM W/O

  • Jun 1, 2003
Pros: KEVIN SPACEY! and one strange story

Cons: 5 maybe 6 cons were involved in this movie

The Bottom Line: _________________

“One cannot be betrayed if one has no people.” [1]

I’m adopting a buddy for the write-off, the luscious Mimi369, who’s buddy dropped out. She selected the movie, I came along for the ride.

The Usual Suspects is the definitive Hollywood dream sequence. You may or may not actually be seeing what you think you are. Very “Mulholland Drive” in that aspect. There are five main characters - the suspects - the plot revolves around, plus two attorneys and the elusive Kayser Soze who no one knows and no one has ever seen.

There are action scenes but for the most part this is a character driven movie. It starts at the ending and works its way back, mainly through narrative by Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint, as he recounts the six weeks that led up to this gigantic pseudo-heist - $91 million dollars of cocaine. Roger, or Verbal as he’s known on the streets, is telling his tale to Dave Kujan, the government official that is hot on his tail. Kujan is more interested in Verbal’s partner, one Dean Keaton, than in Verbal himself. He wants the guarantee that Keaton is dead.

The Suspects
Dean Keaton: ex-cop gone bad, generally the ring leader in any crime scene. He has changed his ways, he’s in love with attorney Edie Finneran. But he gets caught up in this giant scam, along with the rest of the boys, and it looks like there is no way out for him. Gabriel Byrne plays this part with almost a Pacino-like charisma. He seems street smart, yet tired of the whole game.

McManus: psycho and arms expert. A cold blooded killer with no regard to any living thing. Stephen Baldwin was McManus in a role that did not strip the enamel off my teeth watching him for a change. His one contribution to the movie was his steely blue eyes, very necessary for this part. Baldwin seems more in tune with this character than in other movies I’ve seen him in but that doesn’t change the fact that the elder Baldwin’s should have stuck with a smaller family and tried to give at least one of them talent.

Todd Hockney: explosives expert, what they needed for the final job. Like McManus, you find little in Hockney’s make-up that would suggest a caring person. Cold and calculated, he has little remorse when approaching his victims. Kevin Pollak was an outstanding Hockney, he brought out the worse features in this mans personality. Great job.

Fred Fenster: McManus’s partner for over 5 years, he appears to have a speech problem or at least affects one. At times he acts dim witted, but underneath is a sinister person, quite in touch with his feelings and no compulsion about pulling a trigger when he has to. Played by Benicio Del Toro in a terrific characterization.

Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint: they call him Verbal because he talks too much, which is the entire joke. He appears to be slow or dim-witted but don’t let that facade fool you. He likes to figure out how to be successful without killing anyone and generally it works. Also known as “The Gimp” because he has a pronounced defect in his leg and one arm is all but useless. For the most part, he gives off the ‘who me?’ nature but you know underneath that mask is a diabolical mind. Verbal was none other than Kevin Spacey and he ruled this entire movie. In reality, he is the last one to tell the story, but his character all but carries the entire movie.

I cannot give high enough accolades to Spacey for this characterization. Each movie I see him in I become more entranced with his capabilities.

The Attorneys
Kobayashi: works for Kayser Soze and is the driving force that pushes these 5 guys over the edge. A smarmy guy, makes you want to take a shower after talking to him. Played by Pete Postlethwaite in a fantastic adaptation of the character. His reserved speech and detached manner just made you feel nasty.

Edie Finneran: the smiling and shark-like mate of Dean Keaton. Just a little bit dirty and under handed. Pretty, successful and driven. Ms. Suzy Amis was the lovely Edie and I liked her gritty attitude.

Who is Kayser Soze?
“A man can convince anyone he's somebody else, but never himself” [2]

No one knows, that is the problem. That is what causes the boys so much trouble because according to Kobayashi, each of them has stiffed Soze in the past and he wants his due now. His reputation has almost become an urban legend, everyone fears him even though no one has ever seen him. Reported to have killed his entire family to settle a drug score in the old country. A bizarre man, elusive. What a scam!

This is one of the strangest tales I’ve seen in a long time. I had confused it when Mimi suggested this movie, and realized I had never seen it before. How I missed this remarkable movie is beyond me. A great twist in the movie turns it right back on itself. I had to actually laugh at the ending, old Soze got me too! And I’m not the only one that thinks this movie stands above the rest, just look at this .........

~Oscar - Kevin Spacey, Best Supporting Actor
~Oscar - Christopher McQuarrie, Best Writing, Screenplay
~Saturn Award - Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film
~Saturn Award - John Ottman, Best Music
~BAFTA Award - John Ottman, Best Editing
~BAFTA Award - Best Film
~BAFTA Award - Best Screenplay
~BSFC Award - Kevin Spacey, Best Supporting Actor
~Artios Award - Best Casting
~CFCA Award - Best Screenplay
~CFCA Award - Kevin Spacey, Best Supporting Actor
~DFWFCA Award - Kevin Spacey, Best Supporting Actor
~Edgar Allan Poe Award - Best Motion Picture
~Empire Award - Bryan Singer, Best Debut
~Independent Spirit Award - Best Screenplay
~Independent Spirit Award - Benicio Del Toro, Best Support Male
~NBR Award - Best Ensemble Performance
~NBR Award - Kevin Spacey, Best Supporting Actor
~NYFCC Award - Kevin Spacey, Best Supporting Actor
~Golden Space Needle Award - Kevin Spacey, Best Actor
~Golden Space Needle Award - Bryan Singer, Best Director
~Tokyo Silver Award - Bryan Singer

In the end, you just have to remember .........”The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist then 'poof' and he was gone"............[3]

Thanks Mimi for an entertaining watch. Please go to my profile page to get links to the other writers in this “Bring A Buddy To The Movies” Write-off, sponsored by SurgRN911 and Myself


[1] Kobayashi:
[2] Verbal
[3] Verbal


Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More The Usual Suspects reviews
Quick Tip by . October 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The only negative thing about it is that when I watched it a second time--shortly after the first--it's actually boring. But if you wait 10 years to see it again, then it's back to being good again :)
Quick Tip by . September 19, 2010
One of the first post modern movies of my time that assumed the intelligence of the audience. I watched it, put my mind back together, and played it again. I still watch it everytime it is on, and find new surprises that mystify and delight. Excellent ensemble, especially Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Spacey.
review by . December 09, 2008
Despite a decent cast of characters, and "Usual Suspects" title, the movie is anything but usual. The movie begins as what seems to be a very low-budget, made-for-TV movie. Most of it takes place as dialogue between Kevin Spacey's character, Verbal Kint, and U.S. Customs Agent David Kujan, played by Chazz Palminteri. Kujan interrogates Kint about a $91 million heist that Kint and four other men planned. Kint weaves a story of how the 5 men had originally met and what happened on the night of the …
review by . August 22, 2008
Great cast, plot and acting.  I especially like Benicio's work as I could barely understand much of what he was saying...but he said it with style.  Even the Baldwin brother played a convincing character.  Great twists and turns and the ending doesn't disappoint.  A must see.
review by . April 01, 2008
First time i saw this movie, I thought it was one of those made for TNT movies.  After watching it, It's on my list of best movies of all time.  It'll have you guessing from the beginning til the end who is "Kaiser Soze".  If you love the "guess who did it" type of movies then you won't go wrong with this movie.
review by . April 01, 2008
Usual Suspects 1 sheet movie poster
I remember seeing this movie in the theater when it first came out.  There wasn't much buzz about it, and I went to the theater not even knowing what I was going to see.  I think the fact that I had no preconceptions about this film, really enhanced my movie-going experience.    This movie has a great little twist at the end, and I still appreciate it even after I've seen it a handful of times.  Just writing this, makes me want to go see it again.    This …
review by . September 23, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of only very few films I have seen in recent years which require total attention from beginning to end. Even then, it must be seen at least once more to gain a sense of its multiple meanings and then again at least several more times to appreciate its complexity and ambiguity. The viewer's patience is abundantly rewarded with thought-provoking entertainment and yet, the question persists: "What am I missing?" Under Brian Singer's crisp direction, all of the cast's performances are first-rate. …
review by . October 21, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
Given the strength of the cast, The Usual Suspects was a surprisingly down-beat and unambitious film. It was certainly watchable, but is a bit pointless - in announcing that the subject of proceedings is uncovering the identity of the mysterious Keyser Soze, it telegraphs the fact that There Will Be A Twist In The Ending And Keyser Will Turn Out To Be Someone You Didn't Expect (if there isn't, the film will just be plain dull), and unfortunately the twist is guessable after about three quarters …
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Plot Summary: When a truck loaded with stripped gun parts is hijacked outside of Queens, five notorious thieves become overnight guests of the NYPD, but that's all they need to hatch a plan that brings them to Los Angeles for the ultimate take, $91 million in hard cash. Roger "Verbal" Kint, an apparent victim of cerebral palsy yet an accomplished con man, soon falls under the persuasive powers of U.S. Customs Special Agent David Kujan, who's hot on their trail. Kint weaves a tale that begins six weeks ago, back at the police shake-down in New York. Assembled among the professional felons are hardware specialist Todd Hockney, entry man Michael McManus and Dean Keaton, an ex-cop whose hijacking and smuggling exploits have incurred Kujan's wrath. Customs has been building a case on Keaton for three years, and despite Kint's claim that Keaton is dead, Kujan looks to squeeze Kint until he gets his man. In a surprise plot twist, a pitiable con man is being outwitted by an eager Fed. Or is he?
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