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Films to See Before You Die: #25 The Usual Suspects

usual suspects

The Usual Suspects (1995)

Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri, Peter Postlethwaite

Synopsis: Police investigating an exploded boat on a San Pedro pier discover 27 bodies and $91 million worth of drug money. The only survivors are a severely burned and very scared Hungarian terrorist and Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), a crippled con-man. Kint is questioned by US customs agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri), who forces him to tell the whole story from square one. Kint begins with him being put in a pine up with four other common criminals McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Fenster (Benicio Del Toro), Hockney (Kevin Pollak), and Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) over a truck full of weapons that was hijacked. None of them are guilty but the cops try to pin it on them anyways so they decide to take revenge by attacking an illegal taxi service NYPD officers were running for mobsters. They are later recruited a Mr. Kobayashi (Peter Postlethwaite), who is the lawyer for Keyser Söze a powerful crime lord whom each man has wronged at one point or another and it was time to pay up. When Fenster tries to flee he is later found dead and it becomes clear to the others that in order to get out of this alive they will have to do what Söze wants. This eventually leads them back to the boat where Söze kills everyone there including Keaton. Kujan isn’t convinced that Kint is telling the truth and now has to prove that he is lying before he is let out on bail and he is never seen again.

Trivia: Al Pacino also read the part of Dave Kujan, but had to pass due to scheduling conflicts. Pacino has since noted that this is the film he regrets turning down the most. Verbal Kint says “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing man he didn’t exist”. This quote from the French poet Charles Baudelaire also appears in End of Days, also featuring Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Pollak. All the actors were encouraged to ad lib perplexed reactions to Benicio Del Toro’s oddball vocal stylings.

Why I think you should see this: Besides having the greatest twist ending of all time this is a damn good film. I just love the whole premise of a group of cons that are regularly brought in for questioning team together for a big score. Kevin Spacey has never been better than as Verbal Kint the narrator of the film and Gabrielle Byrne does a great job too. Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie deserve most of the credit for Singer’s super steady direction and McQuarrie’s rock solid script. Check this one out sometime it’s a real gem.


About Trevor

Hi my name is Trevor and this is my blog! Films are a passion of mine. I am a total film geek. I own over 700 films and the collection is ever growing. I studied Film Studies and Scriptwriting in College. What I have learned about films is mostly self taught.

8 responses to “Films to See Before You Die: #25 The Usual Suspects

  1. jmount43 ⋅

    I’ve only seen this film once. I need to see it again. I loved Spacey in American Beauty.

  2. jazfagan

    I absolutely loved this movie! It had you guessing all the way to the end….Jaz gives you 2 thumbs up

  3. mrbsure

    This is a great movie; certainly showcases some incredibly acting talent (not to mention great casting to reach that point).

    A superb piece of pure modern storytelling; therefore an excellent film to be in the ‘films to watch before you die’ canon!!!

  4. susan

    Great film! I own this one…:-)

  5. noa834 ⋅

    I agree that this should be in the top 25. It took me seeing it a couple of times to really understand what had happened. Great review! I am glad Al Pacino didn’t do the film. I loved the cast and Kevin Spacey was amazing.

  6. I LOVE Kevin Spacey. One of my Fave actors. Clever movie and a “must see” 🙂 Kim*

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