The Usual Suspects (1995)
A boat has been destroyed, criminals are dead, and the key to this mystery lies with the only survivor and his twisted, convoluted story beginning with five career crooks in a seemingly random police lineup.
"Who is Keyser Soze?"
"The Usual Suspects" starts out just like a crime film, but evolves into an almost classic mystery. It's the kind of film you need to watch twice in a relatively short period of time to truly understand the script's mastery. I've seen the film twice, but years apart, so my insight into the tremendous cinematic achievement of director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie is there but limited.
"Suspects" is derived from a concept of a line-up of hardened criminals who have been brought in not with any evidence, but just because they are "the usual suspects." Their union, however, soon finds them all on a job that ends up with a giant boat explosion and only two survivors, one of them being only one of the criminals, "Verbal" Kint (Spacey) a constantly rambling cripple who must explain the entire situation to the police. The story is told almost entirely from Kint's perspective, which already adds a shade of suspicion to the plot.
The film lines up in strong cast with Spacey including Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Benecio Del Toro and Chazz Palminteri. Their characters, especially the criminals, all add an interesting dynamic to the film, keeping all the scenes interesting when the greater mystery is really the film's greatest asset.
McQuarrie has lined the script full of gems so carefully that when he unloads one of the best twist endings in cinematic history, you are slapped across the face and filled with absolute glee. There's no other way to put it. Credit for this also should go to Singer and Spacey. There's no question that Singer's direction keeps up the intensity. It romanticizes the criminal lifestyle a bit, but it's necessary. Spacey's incredible portrayal of Kint, not only in his mannerisms but in his dramatic highs and lows keeps the storytelling engaging too.
You simply have to watch this film and then watch it again. Then you will unquestionably like it to some degree. If you need a heavy dose of action in all your crime films, that degree will be lesser. This movie does rely heavily on script and character to keep your attention. However, as far as pure mystery goes, you can't beat "The Usual Suspects."
Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?