The Usual Suspects (1995)

The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects

“The Usual Suspects” (1995) is a neo-noir crime thriller directed by Bryan Singer that captivates audiences with its intricate plot, brilliant performances, and masterful storytelling. With its clever twists and turns, the film keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, ultimately leaving them in awe of its compelling narrative and memorable characters.

The film follows a group of criminals, brought together by chance during a police lineup, as they are manipulated into participating in a heist orchestrated by the enigmatic and notorious crime lord, Keyser Söze. As the story unfolds, the audience is taken on a journey through layers of deception, unreliable narrators, and a web of intricate connections.

At the center of the film is the brilliant performance by Kevin Spacey, who portrays Verbal Kint, a small-time con artist with a seemingly unassuming demeanor. Spacey’s nuanced portrayal of Verbal captivates audiences from the start, as he narrates the events that lead up to the fateful heist. His ability to switch between vulnerability and cunning keeps viewers guessing about his true role in the story.

The ensemble cast of “The Usual Suspects” is exceptional, with standout performances from Gabriel Byrne as Dean Keaton, a former corrupt police officer turned criminal; Benicio Del Toro as Fenster, a quirky and unpredictable member of the group; and Chazz Palminteri as Agent Dave Kujan, the determined and relentless detective who becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth.

The film’s strength lies in its clever and intricately woven plot, expertly crafted by screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie. The narrative unfolds through a series of flashbacks and interrogations, challenging the audience to piece together the puzzle alongside Agent Kujan. The nonlinear storytelling technique adds depth and complexity to the film, keeping viewers engaged as they try to unravel the truth behind the enigmatic Keyser Söze.

One of the most memorable aspects of “The Usual Suspects” is its iconic twist ending. As the pieces of the puzzle come together, the true nature of the events and the identity of Keyser Söze are revealed in a jaw-dropping climax that leaves audiences stunned. The film’s conclusion is a testament to its expert craftsmanship, as it subverts expectations and delivers a satisfying yet shocking resolution.

In addition to its captivating narrative, “The Usual Suspects” boasts stylish cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel, who expertly captures the gritty atmosphere of the criminal underworld. The film’s visual aesthetic, combined with its atmospheric score by John Ottman, enhances the tension and adds to the overall noir feel of the story.

“The Usual Suspects” has earned its place as a modern classic, revered for its exceptional storytelling and unforgettable characters. It has garnered critical acclaim, winning Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay for Christopher McQuarrie and Best Supporting Actor for Kevin Spacey. The film’s legacy is further cemented by its enduring popularity among audiences and its influence on subsequent crime thrillers.

In conclusion, “The Usual Suspects” is a mesmerizing and intelligent film that keeps viewers guessing until the final moments. Its intricate plot, brilliant performances, and expert storytelling make it a standout in the crime thriller genre. With its iconic twist ending and memorable characters, it has solidified its place in cinematic history as a must-see masterpiece.

“The Usual Suspects” (1995) boasts a talented cast and crew who contributed to the film’s critical and commercial success. Let’s take a closer look at the key individuals involved:


1. Kevin Spacey as Verbal Kint: Spacey delivers a captivating performance as the cunning and unreliable narrator at the center of the story. His portrayal earned him critical acclaim and won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

2. Gabriel Byrne as Dean Keaton: Byrne portrays the complex character of Dean Keaton, a former corrupt police officer turned criminal. His nuanced performance adds depth and intrigue to the film.

3. Chazz Palminteri as Agent Dave Kujan: Palminteri portrays the determined and relentless detective who becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth. His performance is intense and showcases his skill as an actor.

4. Stephen Baldwin as Michael McManus: Baldwin brings energy and unpredictability to his role as one of the members of the criminal group. His portrayal adds tension and a sense of danger to the story.

5. Benicio Del Toro as Fred Fenster: Del Toro delivers a memorable performance as the quirky and unpredictable member of the group. His unique portrayal brings a touch of humor and unpredictability to the film.

6. Kevin Pollak as Todd Hockney: Pollak brings his comedic talent to the role of Todd Hockney, a member of the criminal group. His performance balances humor and intensity, contributing to the dynamic chemistry among the ensemble cast.


1. Bryan Singer (Director): Singer’s skillful direction brings together the intricate elements of the film’s plot and characters. His ability to build tension and suspense adds to the film’s overall impact.

2. Christopher McQuarrie (Screenwriter): McQuarrie’s screenplay for “The Usual Suspects” is a masterpiece of storytelling. His intricate plot, clever dialogue, and memorable characters earned him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

3. Newton Thomas Sigel (Cinematographer): Sigel’s cinematography captures the dark and atmospheric tone of the film. His visual style enhances the suspense and adds depth to the narrative.

4. John Ottman (Composer and Editor): Ottman’s contributions as both the film’s composer and editor are noteworthy. His atmospheric score complements the tension and suspense, while his editing choices enhance the nonlinear storytelling technique.

The collaboration of these talented individuals, both in front of and behind the camera, resulted in a cohesive and compelling film that continues to be celebrated for its exceptional performances, intricate plot, and memorable characters. Their combined efforts created a masterpiece that has become a beloved and influential crime thriller.

“The Usual Suspects” (1995) achieved significant success both critically and commercially, solidifying its status as a modern classic. Let’s delve into its success in more detail:

Critical Reception:

Upon its release, “The Usual Suspects” received widespread critical acclaim. Critics praised the film’s intricate plot, stellar performances, and expert storytelling. The film currently holds an impressive 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on reviews from top critics.

Audience Reception:

In addition to critical acclaim, “The Usual Suspects” resonated with audiences worldwide. The film garnered a loyal following and became a cult favorite among fans of the crime thriller genre. Its intriguing narrative, memorable characters, and shocking twist ending left a lasting impression on viewers.

Awards and Recognition:

The film received numerous accolades, further cementing its success. Notably, it won two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for Kevin Spacey’s performance as Verbal Kint and Best Original Screenplay for Christopher McQuarrie’s script. These prestigious awards recognized the film’s exceptional acting, writing, and overall quality.

Box Office Success:

Despite its relatively modest budget of around $6 million, “The Usual Suspects” performed well at the box office. It grossed over $34 million worldwide, solidifying its financial success. The film’s strong performance at the box office, coupled with its critical acclaim, highlighted its appeal to both critics and audiences alike.

Cultural Impact:

“The Usual Suspects” left a lasting impact on popular culture. Its twist ending, in particular, has become one of the most memorable and discussed in film history. The film’s enigmatic and cunning character, Keyser Söze, has become an iconic figure in cinema, often referenced and parodied in various media. The film’s influence can be seen in subsequent crime thrillers and films that incorporate complex narratives and unreliable narrators.

Legacy and Longevity:

“The Usual Suspects” continues to be celebrated and appreciated by new generations of viewers. Its reputation as a masterful crime thriller has only grown over time, and it remains an essential film for fans of the genre. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its quality and the timeless nature of its storytelling.

Overall, “The Usual Suspects” achieved remarkable success on multiple fronts. It received critical acclaim, won prestigious awards, performed well at the box office, and left an indelible mark on popular culture. Its enduring legacy is a testament to its exceptional storytelling, brilliant performances, and its ability to captivate audiences with its intriguing narrative and memorable characters.

“The Usual Suspects” (1995) had several interesting behind-the-scenes elements that added to the film’s intrigue and impact. Here are a few notable aspects:

1. The Unreliable Narrator:

One of the most fascinating aspects of the film is the unreliable narrator, Verbal Kint, played by Kevin Spacey. Throughout the story, Verbal weaves a web of lies and half-truths, keeping the audience guessing about the reality of the events. Director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie deliberately crafted the narrative to keep the audience on their toes, creating a sense of mystery and suspense.

2. The Iconic Line-Up Scene:

The film’s opening line-up scene, where the suspects are introduced, is memorable and visually striking. The actors improvised much of the banter during the scene, adding to the natural chemistry and camaraderie among the cast. This improvisation contributed to the authenticity of the characters and their interactions.

3. The Legendary Twist Ending:

“The Usual Suspects” is renowned for its shocking twist ending, revealing the true identity of Keyser Söze. Even the cast members were kept in the dark about the twist until the final moment. Only a few key individuals, including Bryan Singer, Kevin Spacey, and Christopher McQuarrie, were aware of the twist during production. This secrecy added to the surprise factor and allowed the cast to genuinely react to the revelation.

4. Kevin Spacey’s Transformation:

Kevin Spacey’s transformation into the character of Verbal Kint was significant. He underwent physical changes, including losing weight and altering his appearance, to portray the character convincingly. His performance captured the vulnerability and ambiguity of Verbal, contributing to the film’s suspense and intrigue.

5. The Influence of Film Noir:

“The Usual Suspects” pays homage to the film noir genre with its atmospheric visuals, dark themes, and morally ambiguous characters. Director Bryan Singer and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel employed various techniques, such as low-key lighting and shadowy compositions, to create a noir-inspired aesthetic. This homage to film noir adds depth and richness to the film’s visual storytelling.

6. The Iconic Poster:

The film’s iconic poster, featuring the silhouettes of the main characters against a backdrop of smoke, has become synonymous with the film. The poster’s design captures the mysterious and enigmatic nature of the story, adding to its allure and attracting audiences’ attention.

behind the scenes

These behind-the-scenes elements, including the use of an unreliable narrator, the improvisation during the line-up scene, the secrecy surrounding the twist ending, Kevin Spacey’s transformation, the film’s homage to film noir, and the iconic poster design, all contributed to the unique and captivating nature of “The Usual Suspects.” These aspects added layers of intrigue, suspense, and visual appeal, enhancing the overall impact of the film.

“The Usual Suspects” (1995) features a memorable musical score and includes several unforgettable scenes and dialogues that have become iconic in the realm of crime thrillers. Let’s delve into these aspects:

Hit Music

The film incorporates a gripping and atmospheric musical score composed by John Ottman, who also served as the film’s editor. Ottman’s score sets the tone for the tense and mysterious atmosphere of the story, enhancing the overall viewing experience. The soundtrack seamlessly blends suspenseful orchestral compositions with ambient and electronic elements, creating a haunting and evocative soundscape that complements the film’s narrative.

Unforgettable Scenes:

1. The Line-Up Scene:

The film opens with a standout scene where the central characters are brought together for a police line-up. This scene introduces the main characters and establishes their distinct personalities and dynamics. The witty banter, improvised by the actors, adds a layer of humor and sets the stage for the intricate plot that unfolds.

2. Keyser Söze’s Introduction:

The film builds anticipation around the elusive and enigmatic crime lord, Keyser Söze. His character is shrouded in mystery, with various characters recounting conflicting stories about his identity and actions. The moment when Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey) recounts the story of Keyser Söze’s infamous revenge act in a tense and mesmerizing monologue is a standout scene that showcases the power of storytelling within the film.

3. The Twist Ending:

“The Usual Suspects” is renowned for its mind-bending twist ending, which reveals the true nature of the events and the identity of Keyser Söze. This climactic revelation leaves audiences stunned and recontextualizes the entire film. The final moments, accompanied by John Ottman’s haunting score, have become iconic and remain etched in the minds of viewers.

Unforgettable Dialogues:

1. “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

This iconic line, delivered by Verbal Kint, serves as a recurring motif throughout the film. It captures the enigmatic nature of Keyser Söze and hints at the deceptive power he wields. The line is memorable for its philosophical undertones and its significance within the narrative.

2. “And like that… he’s gone.”

Verbal Kint’s final words in the film, spoken in a voiceover, emphasize the elusive and mysterious nature of Keyser Söze. The line punctuates the film’s conclusion and leaves a lasting impact on the audience, amplifying the sense of awe and intrigue surrounding the character.

3. “The greatest trick I ever pulled was convincing the world that Keyser Söze doesn’t exist.”

This line, delivered by Verbal Kint during the film’s climactic revelation, adds another layer of deception and manipulation to the story. It encapsulates the central theme of identity and deception that runs throughout the film.

These unforgettable scenes and dialogues, combined with the gripping musical score, contribute to the lasting impact and enduring legacy of “The Usual Suspects.” The film’s ability to create suspense, subvert expectations, and deliver memorable moments has solidified its place as a classic in the crime thriller genre.

The conclusion of “The Usual Suspects” is a masterful culmination of the film’s intricate plot, characterized by a shocking twist that leaves audiences questioning everything they thought they knew. The scene is set on a pier, where the narrative threads converge, and the truth is finally revealed.

Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), the seemingly meek and disabled man, is revealed to be the mastermind criminal, Keyser Söze, whose name has been whispered in fearful tones throughout the film. With a sudden change in demeanor, Verbal sheds his weak facade and reveals his true identity as the ruthless and elusive crime lord.

In a series of quick cuts and flashbacks, it becomes clear that Verbal has been orchestrating events from the beginning. The story he spun for the detective, Agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri), was a fabricated narrative carefully constructed to deflect suspicion and misdirect the investigation. Each character and their supposed connection to Keyser Söze were carefully chosen pawns in Verbal’s intricate plan.

Verbal’s recollection of events is juxtaposed with the aftermath of a devastating fire on the ship that served as the film’s framing device. As Verbal recounts the story, the pieces fall into place, revealing the true extent of his manipulation. The survivors of the fire, who had previously been perceived as victims, are shown to be Verbal’s co-conspirators. The once-unassuming Verbal Kint is unmasked as the orchestrator of the entire operation.

As the scene unfolds, it becomes clear that Keyser Söze is not a single individual but a persona created by Verbal to strike fear and maintain control. Verbal explains that the greatest trick he ever pulled was convincing the world that Keyser Söze didn’t exist. The revelation is stunning, as the audience realizes that they, like Agent Kujan, have been drawn into Verbal’s web of deceit.


The film’s conclusion takes a final twist as Verbal, having finished his tale, leaves Agent Kujan’s office. With a newfound sense of confidence and strength, he discards his limp and assumes a purposeful stride. The narrative then transitions to reveal the subtle clues scattered throughout the film that hinted at Verbal’s true identity, leaving the audience in awe of the intricate layers of deception woven into the story.

The conclusion of “The Usual Suspects” is a testament to the film’s brilliant storytelling and the power of a well-executed twist. It challenges viewers’ perceptions, forces them to reevaluate everything they thought they knew, and solidifies the film’s reputation as a crime thriller masterpiece. The carefully crafted conclusion leaves a lasting impact, making “The Usual Suspects” a film that demands repeated viewings to fully appreciate its intricate details and narrative brilliance.

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