The Usual Suspects (1995)


During my flight from Dubai to Toronto, I had 14 hours of flight time to kill, so I decided to shun new blockbuster films and entertain myself by watching good old classics. I had already indulged in this thriller but I was really excited to rewatch it. The Usual Suspects is one of Bryan Singer’s early directorial ventures and became a cult classic the moment it appeared on the silver screen.

The Usual Suspects follows the simple tale of Verbal (Kevin Spacey), a small-time crook with cerebral palsy being interrogated by a customs agent for an alleged crime that led to the deaths of several people. At the same time, an FBI agent attempts to unveil the identity of the person responsible for those deaths by interrogating the last survivor from the bloodbath. However, Verbal’s tale gets complicated and nebulous when the agents learn that a Turkish crime lord, “Keyser Söze”, is the true mastermind behind the suspected crimes.

Verbal’s story is shown in a flashback, which starts with five criminals being held in prison without probable cause for being suspects in a heist. These five criminals—Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Fenster (Benicio del Toro), Hockney (Kevin Pollack), and Verbal—share resources and plan to get back at the police. They are soon caught in a web of confusion and chaos, all while trying to survive the wrath of Keyser Söze.

The film progresses with Verbal explaining the purpose behind the crimes, the rumours of how sadistic and ruthless Keyser Söze is, and how he is regarded as mythical by many, because he has never been seen in person. Verbal is eventually let go and given immunity, leaving the police with inadequate information and a puzzling case to solve.

The brilliant script by Christopher McQuarrie and the cast’s performance combine to make this a commendable neo-noir film with a perfect twist of an ending that made my jaw drop. This film is one of my favourites and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys suspense.

Particularly if you are looking for a good stress-buster for upcoming midterms… or are keen to know who Keyser Söze is.