The Usual Suspects Movie Review
The Usual Suspects is a 1995 famous crime thriller directed by Bryan Singer and starring Kevin Spacey. It is one of the most popular thriller films with one of the most memorable twist endings and villains in film history. And besides all those distinctions, it really is a great film.
It follows the interrogation of a cripple con man who is the only survivor of a ship massacre. And the less I say, the better as the movie should not be spoiled to anyone. It is such a riveting and above all intriguing and incredibly well crafted story that unfolds in the most atypical fashion possible. And that is its strongest achievement. It is one of those rare films that uses a different structure of a plot and a very different execution. It tells a story in a very different and unusual way. But unlike the films such as ‘Memento‘, it succeeds in that approach entirely and is used as a genuine plot device rather than a gimmick. The story here is incredibly well imagined and so memorable and smart.
Now, for its twist ending. It is for me the biggest weakness and the biggest strength the film has. First off, it entirely relies upon it. And secondly, I am one of the people who actually got it from early on. I genuinely predicted the outcome from the movie’s early stages and because that twist is the movie’s highlight and most important thing story wise, that is why it kind of disappointed me as I was not genuinely surprised. And that is the only flaw I have with this film along with its unimpressive and somewhat dragged first act.
But what a twist ending it is! Without spoiling anything, there is more to it as well and it should prove genuinely shocking and unexpected to most people. It also seems like a real plot progression or should I say conclusion unlike most twist endings that are just used for the shock value. The movie unfolds and ends in a most impressive and most satisfying way that I couldn’t imagine any other ending. The finale alone is so incredibly powerful and instantly recognizable.
Now, the characters. Dean Keaton has a great story act. Agent Kujan is a very grounded character and a great counteract to Kint. But apart from them, the other characters are not as memorable or as interesting which was a small problem to me. But The Usual Suspects still has one of the best and most awesome villains ever portrayed in a film. He is genuinely frightening, poses real threat and is phenomenally depicted. But it is the other characters’ stories about him and their reactions to his presence that lend to the movie’s dramatic and even horrific feel with some genuinely unnerving moments. The villain is definitely the biggest reason why this movie works so well.
The acting is absolutely superb. Kevin Spacey is of course just amazing and he has such a strong screen presence and gives such a powerful and impressive performance in a very difficult role. Chazz Palminteri is also terrific and Gabriel Byrne did a good job as well. None of the actors here disappoints. The direction from Bryan Singer is excellent and this is his first phenomenal movie and the one that showed off his talents the most. The cinematography is wonderful but it is the deft editing that is its strongest technicality. The score is also really good and tense at times as is the whole movie. The Usual Suspects is not only clever and incredibly sophisticated and well crafted on each and every level, but it is also so realistic and oh so intense and powerful. It is also immensely authentic and memorable, it’s filled with evident originality and excellent dialogue. It is also a perfect mix of thriller and crime with a distinct noir feel to it which is a nice touch.
The film received two Academy Awards, one for Original Screenplay and one for Best Actor for Spacey. Both are so deserved that I couldn’t see any other film taking those awards. But it’s a shame that it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture and that is just an endless testament to the Academy’s obvious clueless abilities in determining the best film of the year. It is not only one of the best films of the nineties but also one of the finest thrillers ever made.