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The Usual Suspects
Category Thriller , Crime/Spy
Year: 1995
Time: 106 minutes
Production: PolyGram
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast:
Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Chazz Palminteri, Pete Postlethwaite
MPAA R / UK18
Our Rating 10/10 - A landmark movie
Watchability 9/10 - You'll watch it again to figure it out, but a third time? Not for everyone.
Contributed by Jordan Taylor
 
Plot:

Five career criminals are arrested on suspicion after a truck is hijacked in New York, leaving the Feds with no leads. While inside, one of the suspects reveals a tip-off involving the illegal (and supposedly disbanded) New York's finest taxi service - but they need all those present for this five man job.  Dean Keaton (Byrne) is reluctant to return to his former ways, but greed soon gets the best of him and they plan the heist.  But will he stick at his promise of just one last job?  And who is really behind the scenes pulling the strings?

 
So, how does it end?

Like "Inception", The Usual Suspects is a movie I've dreaded writing about.

Ok, here goes...

Verbal continues his recollection of events. (It does seem strange that he admits to anyone who asks that he killed a man in cold blood, was involved in various heists including setting a cop car alight, in kidnapping a lawyer and is about to start the account of the boat explosion .. but yet supposedly still has immunity, which would and could never happen based on this testimony. Anyway...)  We reach the finale, the job on the boat.

With Fenster dead after he tried to escape, the 4 remaining suspects carry out the big hit.  McManus takes a sniper rifle to a port building rooftop, Hockney plants an explosive, Verbal hides while Keaton saunters along the docks to the ship crew.

The bomb explodes.  Keaton takes out those around him, McManus shoots the rest.  Hockney doesn't waste time and runs alongside the ship, firing at anyone nosy enough to wander to the top deck. Keaton and McManus shoot their way inside.  Hockney follows a lookout guard to the money truck ... but is shot in the back by an unknown mysterious man.

Keaton and McManus kill the remaining men on board - and find that there is no cocaine in any of the holds. It's another trap. Meanwhile, the mysterious man has come on board and found 'the prize' - an Argentinian 'rat' who knows the identity of Keyser Soze, and his business dealings.  He is shot twice in the head.

Keaton waits on the docks while McManus stumbles out, confused - and then falls down dead, a knife in the back of his head. Keaton turns to run away but is shot by the mysterious stranger.  The man of mystery walks up to Keaton, while Verbal still hides, and we see the first scene from the movie.  Verbal doesn't directly see Keaton die, but shhots twice, and the stranger ignites the fuel line that destroys the ship.

Detective Kujan has had enough.  He has solved the case:  Keaton is the man behind everything. He manipulated the other 4 suspects, planned all the raids, and assumed the bogey-man identity of Keyser Soze. He has faked death in the past, and is still alive now.  He isn't quite sure why he let Verbal live, but has used his politicial knowledge/power to grant him immunity, and will deal with him at a later date.  He also reveals new information that Edie Finneran was found dead, with the usual two shots to the head love momento.

Verbal is emotionally destroyed when he hears that the man he thought was a friend was playing him all along. He leaves the office alone, embarrassed and fearful. He picks up his belongings and then exits to the city streets.

Kujan relaxes after a job well done. He comments to the other officer about his untidy office as his eyes glance over the notice board papers ... and he pieces together that Verbal has truly exceptional eyesight (!) to read the fine print on the board, and fabricate various stories based on names and cities listed as he played the detective with his tales. He drops his mug ... with the words "Kobayashi porcelain" on the bottom.

As he sprints out the station, a fax arrives of the burn victim's mugshot of Keyser Soze - which looks like an average guy in his 40s but with Verbal's hairstyle. It must be him!

Outside on the streets, Verbal picks up the pace and his limp foot suddenly steps into line, while he flexes out his withered hand.  He lights a cigarette, and then climbs into a waiting car - driven by (the man formerly known as...) "Kobayashi".

Kujan gets to the streets too late as the real Keyser Soze escapes to freedom.

 
Notes
Just like in the awesome (ahem) film Fear Island, most plot holes are avoided as we just hear one version of events, that is for the most part fabricated anyway. All that matters are the facts of the case - the body count, and the end game players. On saying that, it would have been better if Verbal used more prompts from the notice board. Watching it again I didn't realise he only used about 3 or 4 - the camera shakes around (as lost as we are) trying to hunt for more clues, but they just aren't there. But credit for re-inspiring a new type of film experience, for using that 90s style sideways gun shot in a major scene (to be repeated a thousand times over on the big and little screen) and having an FBI agent called ... Jack Baer (close enough).
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