The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects, a 1995 American movie written by Christopher McQuarrie (who earned an Oscar for the screenplay) and directed by Bryan Singer. more...
It stars Kevin Spacey (who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance), Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro and Kevin Pollak.
The film, shot on a $4 million budget, did not create much excitement (or box office) during the movie's initial release (even making the list of Roger Ebert's most hated films). Word-of-mouth later made it one of the most highly-regarded of the crime-drama genre. Ten years after its release, it remains in the Top 20 on the Internet Movie Database's Top 250 Movies list.
Roger "Verbal" Kint (Spacey), a small-time con, is in a police interrogation, and tells his interrogator, Agent Kujan (Chazz Palminteri), a convoluted story about events leading to a massacre and massive fire that have just taken place on a boat docked at Los Angeles. Using flashback and narration, Verbal's story becomes increasingly complex as he tries to explain, to Kujan's satisfaction, why he and his partners-in-crime were on that boat.
The movie begins with a man being killed on a boat. The murderer has a gold cigarette lighter and shoots a victim in the head two times, before using spilled gasoline to incinerate the boat.
The movie then starts again with Agent Kujan interrogating Verbal on the status of criminal Dean Keaton, who was involved in the boat fire. Kujan wants to make sure Keaton is dead, and insists that Verbal tells his story, despite the fact that Verbal has already made his statements and been granted immunity.
The movie then starts again, with five crooks being brought together in a police line-up on trumped-up charges. They are an eclectic bunch: Keaton (Byrne) appears to have gone legit; McManus (Baldwin) and Hockney (Pollak) form an instant rivalry; Verbal himself has cerebral palsy and walks with a limp; and Fenster (Del Toro) talks in such mangled English that, according to DVD bonus material, even the actors themselves had trouble understanding him. One thing is certain: since all of them are guilty of something, they're probably innocent of what they're actually being accused of (hijacking a truck full of firearms).
While in jail, the five suspects join forces to plan an emerald heist (as well as a flipping-off of the NYPD), and though Keaton had planned to stay away from further "work", he finds himself continually involved in the group's criminal activities. Eventually they wind up in California, where they are blackmailed by a lawyer named Kobayashi (played by Pete Postlethwaite) into doing a job for someone named Keyser Soze. (Simultaneous to the flashback narrative, an FBI agent receives the eye-witness accounts of one of the gangsters from the destroyed boat - he shouts Soze's name over and over and is eventually coaxed into giving a visual description.) Keaton, Fenster, McManus and Hockney react to Soze's name with a desperation bordering on terror; Verbal, for his part, simply wants to know who the man is.
Keyser Soze, as Verbal relates it, is organized crime's version of the monster under the bed. When he was a small-time Hungarian dope runner, a neighboring gang tried to seize his territory and business by taking his family hostage. Soze, in response, killed his own family (and all but one of the threatening gangsters) and then started a crusade against the gang, systematically eliminating their friends, family, children, lovers, parents, friends of parents before eventually disappearing. He is a criminal mastermind, and his name strikes fear into the heart of hardened criminals. Is he real? Nobody knows. "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
Back in the narrative, Fenster loses his nerve and bolts; several hours later Kobayashi tells the remaining four how to find his body. After further application of threat, the remaining suspects agree to take on the heist: on a boat docked at Santa Monica (the boat from the beginning), two gangs are meeting to finalize the sale of, and then exchange $91 million in cocaine. The suspects are to prevent this from happening, as the sale would be unfortunate for Soze's business. If the suspects wait for the deal to be sealed, they may help themselves to any cash they might stumble upon, but this will require fighting through nearly twice the number of bodyguards.
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