My Review of ‘The Usual Suspects” (1995)


This is one of those movies you have to watch three or four times in order to make complete sense of it (assuming that can be done). It starts near the end where everyone dies in a boat fire, except for one gimpy con man (Kevin Spacey, limping with all he’s worth), who tells the story of what happened in flashback. Well, the FBI’s interested, as is a Customs agent who has it in for the character played by Gabriel Byrne, the leader (I think) of the merry band of crooks who get mostly killed in the boat fire. But not before going through a series of events so convoluted and creepy, it makes The Big Sleep look like a fairytale.


You see, there’s this mysterious guy called Keyser Soze. And he so evil and ruthless, it’s like he’s the Devil himself. But that mostly comes later.


So … to start over (again), Gabriel Byrne and a bunch of other famous actors are rounded up by the New York cops as suspects in a gun shipment robbery. And that’s where the title comes from—Casablanca, that is. You know … the usual suspects. Clever, huh?


So while they’re all gathered, they plan a heist that goes well, then another that doesn’t. At that point, enter a lawyer named Kobayashi. (Were they thinking of the Kobayashi Maru when they came up with that one? Wait … that’s Star Trek, not noir or classic film. Whatever.)

Um ... no!!!

Um … no!!!

And it’s Kobayashi who claims to work for Keyser Soze. As his representative, he makes yet another deal with the gang. I don’t want to reveal how it happens, but afterward things unravel bit by bit, until we’re finally back at the beginning.

So, in the end, the mysterious Kaiser Soze is revealed. I’m not telling who it is, but I actually wasn’t all that surprised.


The actors include Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne (what an accent!), Benicia del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Chazz Palminteri, Giancarlo Esposito, Dan Hedaya, and (of course) Kevin Spacey, who are all amazing.


The plot made my head spin so much, it gave every indication of being made up on the fly. That should give you a clue right there.

If you enjoy a rambling, semi-coherent crime story as much as I do, set aside all questions of consistency or believability. Along with the ever-increasing suspense as various gang members get bumped off, before the big fiery boat conflagration, this one’s worth it for Kevin Spacey’s electrifying performance with Chazz Palminteri. Not to mention all those other great actors. All of it culminating into the big reveal about who the hell Kaiser Soze is. Don’t think too much about it. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Hand showing thumbs up. All on white background.

This humdinger gets two thumbs up from me.

This entry was posted in Crime Fiction, Neo-Noir, Suspense and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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