The Usual Suspects (1995) (R)
Borrowing one of the last lines from the famed classic "Casablanca", Christopher McQuarrie penned one of the best and most loved crime dramas that has yet to be filmed.
"The Usual Suspects" begins and lets us know that last night a boat exploded, then we are taken into a world of flashbacks and backstories to learn about how five criminals formced into a team and how they tried to pull of a grand heist.
Verbal Kint is one of the only survivors of the boat explosion and an US Customs agent, Dave Kujan, tires to put Kint's story together with information he has in order to try to recreate the explosion.
It all started with a line-up. After a truck got hijacked carrying valuable materials, five high-to-do criminals get pulled into a line-up. They all know that it's unethical and that nobody can pin the highjacking on them, but what can they do? They ride out the wave, wondering why they were pulled in together. Usually a line-up consists of one high roller and four idiots but not in the case of this line-up.
While these five men are in a holding cell together, they suggest that they work together in the future. Dean Keaton appears to be the most respected among the criminals (defying the age-old idiom "no honor amongst thieves"); but there's one issue—he's gone clean. He's got himself a nice little lawyer woman who springs him out of jail and he's gotten into the business world—he's turned the corner. The rest of the men, including Kint, think that it's a great idea to work together.
There's Fenster and McManus who have worked together before and then there's Hockney who rounds out the five men. McManus knows a man who can move jewels and expensive baubles, but they still need Keaton in on the job.
After much convincing, Keaton joins the team and soon they begin their merry life of crime.
Back in the office, as Kint is telling Kujan this, it becomes clear that Kujan has a vendetta against Keaton and is determined to prove him guilty of some crime.
"The Usual Suspects" is Brian Singer's masterpiece, a height that he has yet to compete with. "X2" was fun but it was nowhere close to the force of "Suspects".
An all star cast led by Gabriel Bryne, Stephen Baldwin, Chazz Palminteri, and Kevin Spacey make this film unforgettable. Supporting roles from Benicio Del Toro and Pete Postlethwaite are most enjoyable as well.
The script is misleadingly simple, it has many layers to it. McQuarrie would win an Oscar for Original Screenplay for this movie. It would also see Kevin Spacey bring home his first statue.
As the film progresses, twists and turns always keep you on your feet. From a sudden presence of a mafia boss to the loopholes and manipulation of the legal system, "The Usual Suspects" never has a dull moment.
It's not too dark that it will haunt you but it's gritty enough to be enjoyable. It also doesn't loose anything in re-watching. I've seen this movie several times and by the end I am invariably covered in goose bumps.
"The Usual Suspects" is a magnificent, fun ride.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones