Last night, an explosion ripped through a dock in San Pedro, California. Detective Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) now has a boatload of dead Hungarians to account for and one club-footed criminal named Verbal (Kevin Spacey) as his only witness. Verbal speaks of that special day when an NYPD line-up met with the usual suspects: himself, Dean Keaton (Gabriel Keaton), Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollak) and Fred Fenster (scene-stealer Benicio del Toro). The police have nothing on these guys though they make great henchmen for mystery man Keyser Soze. It’s okay if you lose track of the plot—it’s not long before you’ll realize that none of it really matters. Roger Ebert, in his review of The Usual Suspects, said that he prefers to be amazed by motivation, not manipulation. Now, if you’ve approached The Usual Suspects expecting to be hit over the head, it may not be too difficult for you to spot Keyser Soze. Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, though, don’t want you to find Waldo. Despite the convoluted narrative, The Usual Suspects makes perfect sense. If you can smell the con job a mile away, you may jump right before Singer pulls the rug out from under you. Singer’s engagement of noir idiom is too lightweight to propel McQuarrie’s punchy meta-narrative beyond inconsequentiality. The Usual Suspects has always kind of sat there, hoping that you’ll love it for its twist ending. “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Yeah, that sounds about right.
- Bryan Singer
- Christopher McQuarrie
- Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Chazz Palminteri, Pete Postlethwaite, Kevin Pollak, Benicio del Toro, Suzy Amis, Giancarlo Esposito, Dan Hedaya, Paul Bartel
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