The Usual Suspects

1995 / 106 Minutes / R
Reviewed by Dale Nauertz


Every so often, there comes a film that gets blown way out of proportion.

"The Usual Suspects" is just such a film. Yes, it is good. But it is not nearly as good as a lot of people would have you believe.

The plot, which is entirely too complicated for its own good, involves a lot of criminal activity. A group of criminals are rounded up in a lineup and, subsequently, are given an assignment by a shady character named Kaiser Soze. Kaiser Soze is something of a legend among the criminal community, a man whose name inspires fear and dread in men who would seem to be above such emotions. He once killed his own family to keep a competitor from doing the same. Therefore, it is understandable that many would be afraid of him.

First off, let me reward the film for its good points. The villain. Kaiser Soze is an excellent villain. We need not see his face to be afraid of him. Very well done. There are moments of genuine menace involving his character. And the part where Kevin Spacey tells the story about Kaiser and his family, that is an amazing scene. It will leave you numb.

The acting is all basically very good. Spacey is great in this movie, but he's always great. And, on a Spacey level of performances, this is moderate. It is a medium Spacey performance. The look of the film is great. There are some very haunting moments on display here. And the twist at the end will definitely have you talking.

But strip away the twist, the acting, and the look, and you basically have your average crime movie. The first half of this film takes a while to get started. It cooks when it does, but it still takes a while. And it is well done. But it is still nothing spectacular. Yes, there is about an hour and a half of decent entertainment here.

But it certainly wasn't the juggernaut I was expecting after the reviews I had read. Hype diluted this movie for me, but even with the hype, "The Usual Suspects" has a good deal to recommend.



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