The Usual Suspects Review

The Usual Suspects is a 1995 crime mystery written by Christopher McQuarrie and directed by Brian Singer. The film won two Academy Awards in 1996: Best Screenplay for McQuarrie and Best Supporting Actor for Kevin Spacey. The movie is regarded to be one of the greatest films of all time, partially because of its infamous twist ending.

Story
"Verbal" (Kevin Spacey), the lone survivor of a bloody gunfight, is brought in by a police detective to recount the chain events that lead to the death of more than a dozen people. Six weeks before the event, five criminals were brought in for a lineup, which they learned was set up by the mysterious criminal Keyser Soze.

Despite the film being told in a non-linear format, it's actually very easy to follow. The format even adds to the experience of the film in some ways, with different parts of the mystery being revealed in both the past and present. The twist is one of the best I've ever seen. Even though I knew what the twist was going in, it still surprised me how much it changed the story.

The screenplay Oscar was well deserved; the dialogue manages to be funny and dramatic while also sounding natural. It's a very thin line to walk and McQuarrie walked it well.

The characters are surprisingly forgettable except for a few. "Verbal" gets the most development and screen time, so we get to know him the best. A few of the police officers are kind of memorable, however they don't get a lot of time dedicated to them.

Technical
This film is wholly unremarkable on a technical level. The costume and set design don't call attention to themselves with bright colors or unusual objects. The suspects themselves are mostly dressed in minimalist suits and everybody else is even more blandly dressed.

In terms of cinematography, there's nothing eye catching. There aren't any grand setpieces for wide shots, most of the conversations are shot over-the-shoulder (as is the standard)

The editing is pretty good. In the beginning of the film where the police are interrogating the suspects they transition from one suspect to another by making their dialogue with the police feed into one another. When the twist is finally revealed at the end of the film everything goes silent except for the musical score. It makes the twist feel all the more huge as the shock hits the characters and audience.

I've never been the biggest fan of Kevin Spacey; whenever he's in a movie I never see a character. I just see Kevin Spacey playing a character. However, in this movie, he totally gets lost in the role. This is the most range I've ever seen from him, portraying meekness, shyness, courage and despair. However, whenever he's narrating the story he goes back to that monotone that he uses in every movie. It's hard to believe he's playing anything but a bad guy when he sounds like HAL-9000.

Summary: The Unusual Suspects is everything I wanted LA Confidential to be: funny, intriguing and with an amazing twist ending. I immediately wanted to watch it again after I finished it and you will too.

A

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