To look at director Bryan Singer’s recent films, such as this summer’s blockbuster, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” or “Superman Returns,” one might think his talents are limited fare designed for a teenage demographic. But the 1995 Oscar winning crime thriller “The Usual Suspects,” one of his earliest films, shows just how versatile the director can be.
In “The Usual Suspects,” Roger “Verbal” Kint (played by Kevin Spacey), a lower echelon con man afflicted by with cerebral palsy who is brought to a Los Angeles police station for questioning following a huge and deadly boat explosion in the San Pedro Bay. The frightened hoodlum tells the police a complicated story of how he got involved with a group of criminals: Keaton (played by Gabriel Byrne), McManus (played by Stephen Baldwin), Fenster (played by Benicio Del Toro), and Hockney (played by Kevin Pollack). They met several weeks earlier when they were wrongfully arrested in New York. After their release, they plan revenge on the police. Their revenge plan works well and attracts the attention of Keyser Soze, a dangerous and brutal crime boss whom some believe to be real and others believe to be a fictive.
“The Usual Suspects” has a very intriguing screenplay, which won an Academy Award. It is unpredictable and has a memorable twist ending. Also, it makes Keyser Soze a memorable character. As we watch the film, we are not sure if he is real or not.
The movie also won an Oscar for Kevin Spacey, who is excellent as a seemingly average criminal. Another nuanced performance is given by Chazz Palminteri, the determined U.S. customs agent who is questioning Verbal. The late Pete Postlethwaite is also memorable as a lawyer who claims to work for Keyser Soze.
“The Usual Suspects” is a must-see for fans of crime thrillers. It is easily Bryan Singer’s best film outside of the “X-Men” franchise.