The Usual Suspects (1995)



Ensemble casting chemistry.

This is the second time I’ve watched this film, and as a result the twist surprise ending wasn’t a surprise.  I think that took away from my experience this time.  However, knowing the end I felt I was able to piece together some things more easily since I knew what to look for.

One of the strengths of this movie is the chemistry between the five main characters.  They seem to play well off of each other.  Each one brings a unique personality and skill set, aside from Fenster (Benicio Del Toro) and McManus (Stephen Baldwin) who are both primarily hit men.  The way these guys interacted made it seem like they had a natural chemistry without being carbon copies of one another.  I know very little about Gabriel Byrne, but I enjoyed him as the apparent mastermind but at the same time reluctant leader of the group.  His character’s experience as an ex-cop and heister provided a voice of reason as he dealt with trying to put those habits behind him.

The complexity and layers to this story at times were hard to follow for me.  If there was a weakness in this movie, that would be it.

Kevin Spacey does a great job in this film.  It’s interesting to note that he has been nominated for two Academy Awards for his performances in The Usual Suspects and American Beauty.  He won both times.  His calm yet firm demeanor makes the end-of-movie twist all the more surprising.  Even as Kujan is convinced Keaton is the leader of the group, the audience, or at least this audience, was convinced of that as well.

Overall I thought The Usual Suspects was engaging enough to stay interesting, but sometimes to a fault.  I enjoyed it, but probably won’t see again.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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