Tuesday, May 3, 2016

901. The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects
Directed by Bryan Singer

This is one of those films that I really enjoyed, but I am not sure I could defend it against its critics.  It's like a time travel movie.  If you don't think about it too much, it is a great ride.  I would advise any innocent soul who hasn't had the twist spoiled for them to watch this immediately.

Roger Ebert said he had a hard time following the plot to this movie.  After watching it a second time, he said "I had, after all, understood everything I was intended to understand.  It was just that there was less to understand than the movie at first suggests."  This is a fair point, as it sometimes seems the plot is complicated for the sake of being complicated.  Basically, a con man with cerebral palsy is one of two survivors of a massacre on the ship.  He tells the police interrogator (and us) the story of how he and his partners in crime showed up on the boat in exchange for immunity.

I tend to rate movies on the enjoyability factor and in this case, I have to give the movie five stars.  It's exciting and gripping and nearly everyone delivers a memorable performance.  I feel a bit uncomfortable praising a film that works better if you don't use your brain.  As a rule, I should perhaps condemn these movies but as an occasional treat, they can be a fun diversion.

RATING: *****

Interesting Facts:

The word "fuck" is used 98 times.

On Roger Ebert's Most Hated Movies List.

Body count of 17.


  1. This was a well-done movie. The acting, the story---I didn't absolutely love it, but it was...well done!I am surprised about the Roger Ebert business but you have to respect the fact that he saw a lot of movies and knew what he liked and didn't like.

    1. I loved how he gave every movie a chance with zero pretensions.

  2. Ebert's point is right, but draws the wrong conclusion in my opinion. On second watching you do indeed make sense of everything that seemed very confusing at the time. But that is the point, yes? It very carefully strikes the right balance between puzzling you and making you understand enough to get the gist of where each scene is going. It wraps you up in exactly the whirl you're supposed to be in. Not one to switch your brain off exactly, just one where the filmmakers use your brain against you.

    A word on the ending. ** SPOILER ALERT ** It is often said that Kevin Spacey is Keyser Söze, that he had been acting as a plant within the group all along. But not so simple, I say. Maybe he didn't really exist. Maybe none of what was told took place. Verbal just makes up a story out of thin air and introduces new elements and 'confessions' when prompted by the police investigator. Maybe it was almost true, maybe not one single word. Therein lies the mystery.

    1. Yes there is just so much up in the air. If there are any plot inconsistencies it can be all covered by "oh well he is making everything up anyway so he could have made a mistake." And then, as you said, maybe Keyser Soze didn't exist. I think Ebert saw all the ambiguity as lazy, but I didn't hate it. Still not my favorite technique of storytelling.