on 14 October 2009
"The Usual Suspects" is a film with an astonishing plot. To remain aware of what is going on, looking away from the screen for even a second is inadvisable. Despite the story line being saturated with information it is an enjoyable movie to watch. Due to the disjointed skipping between time lines, particularly in the beginning, it can be a little difficult to become immersed but I would say that it is worth the wait. As the plot unfolds it is increasingly captivating. What else made this film so exceptional is the cast performance. Kevin Spacey was stunning as Verbal Kint and he added a real depth to the character. The other criminals were also made particularly believable in the eyes of the audience by the actors, and Nolan was particularly easy to empathise with.
That being said, I was disappointed by the quality of the upscale. This is not what I would term 'high definition' by any stretch of imagination. The picture quality wasn't bad, but it lacked the distinctive sharpness and crystal clear nature of most blu-ray films and DVD to BR conversions. Also, the picture on the sleeve was reminiscent of that on a pirate copy- that is to say, dreadful.
Complaints aside, it was an entertaining film and well worth watching for anybody interrested in criminal thrillers.
on 16 January 2003
"Round up the usual suspects." And so they do - and ending up in the lineup are career criminals Michael McManus, Fred Fenster and Todd Hockney (Stephen Baldwin, Benicio del Toro and Kevin Pollack), ex-cop gone bad gone good again Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) and small-time con man Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey).
Wait a minute ... five criminals in one lineup? There's something wrong here, right? Right ...
In "The Usual Suspects," not only every line but every gesture, every facial expression and every camera cut counts. Even if you distrust the story being told, you can't exactly pin down everything that's wrong with it. The plot unfolds through the tale extracted from Kint, one of two survivors of a massacre and subsequent explosion on a boat docked in San Pedro Harbor, by U.S. Customs agent David Kujan (Chazz Palminteri). And at the same time as Kint is spinning his yarn, in a nearby hospital the other survivor (badly injured and fresh out of a coma) helps a police sketch artist draw a picture of the mastermind behind the scheme - "the devil," Keyser Söze.
You can watch this movie countless times, and you will still discover new subtleties every single time. Not only will you find that it still makes sense after the story line has been unraveled at the end (which therefore is a plot twist, not a non-sequitur). You'll also discover nuance upon nuance in Kevin Spacey's incredible performance. You'll see that tiny apologetic grin on Todd Hockney's face as attorney Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite) lists a weapons truck heist - the very act which brought them together in the initial lineup, and which they have all come to believe to have been a trumped-up charge - as Hockney's latest sin against Keyser Söze, now forming part of the debt to be repaid by participating in the suicide mission in San Pedro Harbor. And at some point you'll also have figured out all of Fenster's lines (not being a native English speaker, I am relieved to find that I wasn't the only one struggling with them at first) ... although the mumbling is of course part of his character, and is as excellently delivered as every other aspect of Benicio del Toro's acting, his lines are so funny and to the point you almost wish he'd speak more clearly so you wouldn't miss half his punch lines the first time around.
Among a cast of tremendous actors (to name just two, Gabriel Byrne in one of his best performances and Benicio del Toro, deserving much more than just an "also starring" mentioning in the opening credits), Kevin Spacey's star shines brightest. To this day it is a mystery to me how he came to be awarded the Academy Award for Best *Supporting* Actor - the only things the man supports (in fact carries, almost single-handedly) in this movie are Bryan Singer's directing and Christopher McQuarrie's screenplay, and that alone makes him the movie's lead character. But regardless of its title, the award was more than justified, and so was the one for McQuarrie's screenplay. With infinite trust in the audience's ability to pick up on little gestures, looks and inflections of his voice, Kevin Spacey displays all the many aspects of his character at the same time; and even the tenth time around, his performance still holds as true as the first time you watch the movie. Almost expressionless he tells his tale, always seeming to give away just about as much as he has to, and only raising his voice for a pointed (and exquisitely timed) expletive upon first being confronted with the name Keyser Söze, and for a wailing "Why me??" as agent Kujan tries to convince him that his own archenemy, Keaton, has been behind their failed enterprise all along and purposely let him (Kint) live to tell their story.
This is one of those movies which have you quote their many memorable one-liners forever - and not just the one about "the devil's greatest trick." To the extent that it cites other works, those citations pay homage, they don't merely copy - right down to the name of the movie's production company (Blue Parrot/Bad Hat); like the title containing a reference to "Casablanca," the prototype of all films noir (or those made in Hollywood at least). It is one of the best modern examples of the genre and has long since become a cult classic - it's a must in every decent collection.
on 29 April 2002
Every so often a movie comes along that is brilliant in every way - a movie that obtains true classic status. The Usual Suspects in one such movie, and winner of 2 Oscars. It has the best and most complicated plot I have ever seen and is directed with extrordinary vision. It's a modern classic that can shoulder to shoulder with other greats such as L.A. Confidential and Memento. You find yourself drawn into it, and it's simply the best film for making you tear your hair out in frustation and yell "WHO IS KEYSER SOZE?" before running round the room yelling in anger. Then you settle down and watch eagerly, of course.
The plot can never really be explained until you've seen the film. Not for nothing did it win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. But I'll do my best. After an explosion, the the small-time crook Verbal Kint is being questioned. His story is amazing. A group of criminals are rounded up for questioning over a hijacking, the "Usual Suspects" of the title. However, this meeting just gives them an oppurtunity to scheme maliciously together. They embark on a devious plan to rob a crook making use of the crooked police. However they become embroiled in the plots of a master criminal known as Keyser Soze, so mysterious and elusive that no-one has ever seen him. Under the guidance of "Kobayashi", they are directed to a ship and a job for Keyser, who is seemingly infallible, as Verbal says:
"I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze."
In a shock ending that plays wonderfully on the gullibility of an audience to jump to conclusions, events come to a head with lightning-fast realisations. Believe me, you'll be slapping yourself for not seeing it.
The acting quality on show here is of the highest quality. It was the film that first announced Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, L.A. Confidential)onto the scene, who is undoutably one of the most talented actors in modern Hollywood. His portrayal of the crippled Verbal is unbelievably slick. He barely outshines the darkly brilliant Gabriel Bryne (The Enemy of The State), who plays Keaton with finesse. Another superb turn is for Benitio Del Toro (Traffic) as Fenster, who shows here the acting ability that won him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Traffic. Pete Postlewaite is also excellent as the elusive Kobayashi. However, there is no doubt that the most brilliant talent behind this film is that of young director Brian Singer, also known for X-Men. This is a masterpiece that he will probably never better.
As this is Special Edition, you'll be expecting extras, and you get them. It's the 2 disc DVD that the film deserves. Documentarys, outtakes, commentaries, TV spots, trailers, featurettes and deleted scenes. We are also treated to 3 easter eggs, which is the most I've seen on a DVD for a long time. But the creme de la creme is something that we deserve - A Region 2 exclusive feature. About time we got more than the Americans for once!
on 21 May 2007
Tips to those who want to have a review before viewing the film / DVD.
1) It's better you don't get any clues (spoilers) from people who have seen it. Enjoy the film till the very end, and you would have seen one of the best suspense / thriller film.
If you already know something about the film -
1) Yes, there is a twist at the end, but that is not the only enjoyable thing in the film. People see the film for the 100th time and still enjoy it :-)
2) If you are trying to guess the twist at the end, while watching, remember one thing. The film shows three things i) the past, ii) present, and iii) the past according to a lead character. Hope this is enough clue, if you want you prove yourself smart.
3) If you want to be surprised, remember that the lead characters including Kevin Spacy were not this popular when the film was released in 1995.
on 26 August 2005
Who is Keyser Soze? He's the man who will have you watching this film more than once that's who. This is the greatest film-noir since Bogart that'll have you guessing who won the oscar just as much as 'who did it' because it's genuinely that good. In line with the greatest of films only when the whole, fantastically unexpected truth unfurls in the final minutes do you realise what you have just experienced. This film restores faith that there are people out there making movies for the right reason. And when it's all over I'll have a little bet with you - you can't watch this film just the once. The extras are fine but it's the main feature that holds you. The intelligence sparkles, the plot bristles as it twists with the whole feel taking you back to a golden age. Top 10 material - and that's a claim not lightly made....
on 1 December 2003
The Usual Suspects is a staggering film. Unfortunately for me however, when I first bought this film on video I knew the twist at the end; though this doesn't make the pay-off any more electrifying just as the credits roll!
Although I did originally buy this film on video, I soon bought the DVD as well - not only are the extensive extras brilliant value for money but this is the kind of film that I'm going to want to keep for ever! The Usual Suspects is the kind of film that I want to watch again and again; not a single line of dialogue is extraneous, the direction is subtle and almost every shot actually means something, and the acting of EVERY single principal is just incredible. Kevin Spacey in particular gives a brilliantly nuanced turn as crippled con-man Verbal Kint, and others such as Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri and Pete Postlethwaite give layered, idiosyncratic and very memorable performances. The other 'Suspects' are equally memorable; Stephen Baldwin and Kevin Pollak don't give a s**t about anyone, and Benicio del Toro as Fenster is the most hilariously unique character I have ever seen in a film ("He'll flip yo. Flip yo for real"). Genius.
The extras on the DVD are similarly awesome; documentaries such as 'Rounding up the Usual Suspects' display the kind of effort that is usually not seen on DVD; the cast have returned to comment and reminisce on the film-making process, reflecting the affection and regard in which this film is held. The commentaries, one from Christopher McQuarrie + Bryan Singer, and one from John Ottman. These commentaries are informative and entertaining, and in particular McQuarrie and Singer are very modest and hilariously witty in their views on the talk track. The way that they laugh about such niggles as continuity errors is brilliant.
This DVD package shows the respect that this film has garnered from all areas of industry; everyone wanted to return to talk about it for the documentaries, and the quality of the image and sound is absolutely top-notch. This is a film that you NEED for your collection. One of the best films of the '90s, it demands repeat viewings and thus is brilliant value for money. Buy it now!
on 21 October 2005
One viewing of this film is simply not enough. There is so much detail and little pieces of information thrown in throughout the film it is almost impossible to take it all in and make sense of it all in the first time round. This adds to the appeal and longevity of The Usual Suspects, which is a truly excellent film, making use of top quality acting talent particularly from Kevin Spacey who deservedly won an OSCAR for his part as Verbal Kint.
The plot in this film is so absorbing drawing you in deeper and deeper as you go through the story of what has taken place. It is hard for me to elaborate too much on the plot without giving anything to those yet to see it, so all I will say is that there is a wonderful twist that will leave you scratching your head and perhaps feeling slightly dumb and gullible. This is especially evident when you re-watch the film and make sense of all the little clues that apparently served no purpose on the first viewing.
To compliment the excellent plot all of the characters lines within the movie are excellent and fit the characters perfectly and gives you some nice one liners to quote afterwards. What we have is a very well rounded film in all areas from start to finish, camera work, acting, scenes and much more. To top it all it comes in a nice little package with some worthwhile extras that well put together.
I give this film 5 stars, quality of the plot is far too good for anything else. Definitely buy this movie, take some time out and be aware that you should concentrate to get the most out of the film and will undoubtedly want to watch it again.
on 12 July 2005
No need for me to comment on the film itself, you should know that it's worth seeing by now!
I would like to add however, that the video quality isn't as good as people are stating. Throughout the film, there are quite visible dust/scratch marks and the colours are a little dull. I don't know why this is (the colouring could be intentional), but you'd think that a film of this quality would have had a thourough cleaning-up treatment.
I would have given it five stars, were it not for this problem.
on 9 August 2005
Its only rarely that you get movies that are so witty, intelligent and well done as the Usual Suspects. Having some stellar actors the movie follows a deep and split up plot with many flashbacks that piece together the films core. The drama is always entertaining thanks to some brilliant red herings, the odd clue and suspicions about characters. At the climax you can only wonder which parts of the movie were real and which were fiction ( have to watch to see what I mean ). Brilliant, simply brilliant.
I didn't know what to expect from The Usual Suspects, I wasn't sure if this was a candid look at policing, or whether, it was just some comedy, but thankfully, it was a conscience look at crime, and the labyrinth built by criminals to avoid jail, and this, Bryan Singer's second film is a real eye-opener.
it all starts with a bunch of criminals, Stephen Baldwin as Michael McManus, Gabriel Byrne as Dean Keaton; Benicio Del Toro as Fred Fenster, Kevin Pollak as Todd Hockney and Kevin Spacey as Roger 'Verbal' Kint - all being in a line up, being questioned about a boat, which police suspect was a drugs mule, and some dead people were found, so the cops need to find the suspects; this is the long, dark, and twisty story about their lives, why they're here, and who is this mystery man, Keyser Soze?
I like this film, but you have to be patient with it; it's not going to just reveal itself to you; you have to sit through quite a lot of dialogue and footage to really get to grips with it. It has a lot of playback as it's not easy to work out the story; but it's worthwhile once you understand it, and I can see why this has been in the top 100 movie lists in newspapers. All 5 guys are great in this, and play their roles well, especially Kevin Spacey as Verbal, a guy who never stops talking, and walks with a limp, he really is the pinnacle of the movie.
This Blu-Ray is an outrage to be honest with you; it's got a VC-1 video codec running at around 20MB/s. This is unacceptable especially with the quality of the movie. The transfer isn't bad for a film that was filmed on film, and the audio isn't bad either - but it's not a DTS Master either, which really annoyed me. There are no extras, or menus for that matter, though I did notice French subtitles if you scrolled through the options with the audio button on the remote, really this was disappointing for me, especially as this is a classic movie and highly considered.
Don't bother with this, it doesn't reflect the greatness of the movie. I'm not sure who this is for, fans won't like it as it offers nothing more than the 2 disk edition did, although the definition is higher, and the audio a touch better, this really isn't what the HD platform was made for, it's shoddy and I can only see this being re-released in a few years time with more extras, probably upscaled to 1080.
Avoid, get the 2 Disc Special Edition instead.