'The Usual Suspects' [Blu-ray Book]
(Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, et al / Blu ray / R / (1995) 2011 / MGM)
Overview: Near the end of 'The Usual Suspects,' Kevin Spacey, in his Oscar-winning performance as crippled con man Roger "Verbal" Kint, says, "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." This may be the key line in this story; the farther along the movie goes, the more one realizes that not everything is quite what it seems, and what began as a conventional whodunit turns into something quite different.
Blu ray Verdict: "Who is Keyser Soze?" Christopher McQuarrie won a well-deserved Best Original Screenplay Oscar for this stylish, mesmerizing gangster thriller, which demands you attention from the opening scenes.
Directed by Bryan Singer, the story, told in flashback, tells of five criminals who meet in a New York police line-up, then form a gang to pull off multiple robberies. They soon discover, however, that they are being manipulated by Keyser Soze, a much-feared, legendary master criminal who each has unknowingly wronged.
Gabriel Byrne, Best Supporting Actor winner Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak and Benicio Del Toro are the crooks, while Chazz Palminteri is the cop who has to figure out what happened when all but Spacey died while pulling their last job. Pete Postlethwaite and Suzy Amis are also in the cast.
I won't give away the ending here, but I will say that this film follows a narrative pattern such that guessing the "big reveal" is difficult, as information is revealed in flashbacks, thus getting more complex as the story continues. However, as many of my friends have said that, after repeated viewings it IS possible to somewhat predict what is going to happen. Kinda!
I didn't know what to expect when I sat down to watch this movie, but I knew I was not a fan of gangster/crime films, so I was a bit leery. However, the story is so expertly crafted that one (myself included!) completely forgets that the main characters are criminals and instead focuses on the plot twists and turns.
Indeed, in many respects, the mystery surrounding Keyser Soze is what makes this puzzle a little more than the average mystery. As you watch the film, it is actually this character, real or fake, that derives much of the motivation for actions of the thieves, such as their decision to take the big job on the boat. Soze is one of the worst villains of the film, and yet, much of the film you are trying to figure out if the infamous killer is more man or more myth. The mystery surrounding this diabolical character's whereabouts, and his association with evil, seems to give the film's final moments even more significance and tenseness. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but this new Blu ray disc comes with (amazingly) NO Special Features!