Fans and critics


The Usual Suspects
by Sarah

The ‘Usual Suspects’ is a cracker of a film and Spacey’s performance is absolutely electrifying. The first time I saw the film I thought the end was positively breath taking – a genuine classic. If you haven’t seen this film then switch off your phone, kick the cat out, sit down and prepare to be blown away!
January 20, 2004

The Usual Suspects
by McCormick

kevin spacey as ‘verbal’-the ulimate best performance i have ever seen. i was blown away! simply amazing!
September 6, 2003

The Usual Suspects
by Sonia

The Usual Suspects was an awful movie with no concept of what was going on. The characters were a odd, and why did they hang out with each other in the first place? Gabriel Byrne’s character was the only cool one, Spacey looked and sounded like a deranged Peter Lorre (!), Baldwin looked a out of place surfer boy, and Del Toro looked like a transvestite Puerto Rican with those thin eye brows and lispy accent. Thumbs way down on this overblown hyped movie!!!!
September 4, 2003

The Usual Suspects TUScd1by Jan – Aug, 4, 2003

The Usual Suspects did not make any sense. All this movie did was explode some crummy actor’s egos (with the exception of Spacey) The Suspects screenwriter, Christopher McQuarrie used a famous quote from a REAL GOOD MOVIE, “Casablanca” when Claude Rains announced “Round up the usual suspects”.

The Usual Suspects
by Bruner

This is such a good movie and if you have never seen it I recommend you go out and rent it right now. It’s soooooooo good!
June 15, 2003

The Usual Suspects 
by Janine

I just saw “Sexy Beast”, and couldn’t help but think, if there weren’t a Verbal Kint, perhaps Ben Kingsley wouldn’t have been considered to play the part of Don in this film, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. You see, Don is quite unassuming in his dress and manner (until he starts acting quite beastly when he doesn’t get his way), and I thought, Hey, that reminds me of Verbal! Just another skinny fella sitting quietly in his bland clothing–but ready to ignite at any moment.

Verbal Kint. Kevin Spacey’s part in “The Usual Suspects”. More is going on than the desperate cocaine heist our five suspects are goaded into by Pete Postlethwaite’s dignified and deadly Kobayashi. More is going on than Gabriel Byrne’s resigned reentry into the world of crime. Unfortunately, today, the twists and turns of this brainy film may have already been spoiled for you. After all, this film is about 7 years old.

But watch it anyway, twice a year at least, if you enjoy Kevin Spacey’s work. Watch him closely when he is being lashed with threats to ‘fess up. Chazz Palminteri, as the cop determined to tie loose ends, is earnest and almost volcanic in his need of the straight story. In one scene, Dave the cop speculates that Verbal was simply being used. In a tight close-up of his profile, Spacey’s face twists from a smirk to deadpan just before he knows his expression might be caught. Then, with doe eyes, he slips back into his role of Verbal the vulnerable.

He isn’t just reliving the story of a heist gone terribly wrong. He’s enjoying himself. So are we. That’s cool.
Janine, March 17, 2002

The Usual Suspects
by Andrea

For me it’s all about THE USUAL SUSPECTS, oh yeah baby. I mean, nothing else even comes CLOSE. Kevin SO deserved that Oscar, if you ask me. In the movie he plays a club-footed con man named “Verbal” Kint. Verbal appears to be stupid, but in the end he tricks a U.S. Customs Agent and pulls the ultimate scam. (As if you didn’t know) 🙂 And, if you ask me, Kevie is the real Keyser Soze. :))

“The Usual Suspects’ steps out of lineup
Friday, August 18, 1995

WRITER Christopher McQuarrie’s original notion was to make a film called “The Usual Suspects,” in which five criminals meet in a police line-up. He thought it would make a wonderful poster. The poster’s O.K. The movie is sensational, a modern-day noir about petty crime, a mythic gangster, loyalty, going straight and double crosses. This movie has everything but Humphrey Bogart, and I’m sure he’s sorry he was unavailable.
McQuarrie had collaborated with director Bryan Singer on the script for “Public Access,” co-winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize in 1993. Perhaps this is the beginning of another great director-writer team to match Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell and / or I.A.L. Diamond and Billy Wilder.
The action begins in San Pedro with the explosion of a boat thought to be filled with a huge stash of cocaine. Two men survive. The police detain one of them, “Verbal” Kint (Kevin Spacey), a small-time con with a limp, who tells Customs Agent Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) what he knows about the bombing and the plot that led to it. In flashback, we learn how Verbal first met his conspirators in a police lineup six weeks earlier. Former crooked cop Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), hardware specialist Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollak), entry man Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin) and the nervous Fenster (Benicio Del Toro) end up planning a heist while waiting to be released from police custody.
In the flashback we learn that Keaton wants to go straight, but he’s sucked into the scheme. The heist is a switcheroo that leads to a big payday and the arrest of 50 corrupt cops. It’s pulled off with surgical precision. Keaton wants to quit, but Keyser Soze, an infamous gangster no one has ever seen, threatens the men with retributions unless they agree to sabotage the presumed cocaine deal scheduled to take place in San Pedro.
This may all sound tortuously incomprehensible, but it all makes a kind of magical sense, the way the nearly unintelligible “The Big Sleep” made sense. Logic is less the issue than satiny style, and McQuarrie and Singer and their talented cast all have style to spare.
A special treat is watching veteran actor Pete Postlethwaite (Daniel Day-Lewis’ dad in “In the Name of the Father” ), known for his sad-faced blue-collar portrayals, do an upper crust Oxbridgian accent as Kobayashi, the prim representative for Soze.
The movie has all the pizzazz, mystery, solemnity and humor of “Chinatown.” Most of the time I hardly knew what was going on, but I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Singer is not a fancy director, or ostentatious or ornate. The beauty of “The Usual Suspects” is in its simplicity.
Movie Review “The Usual Suspects’ * CAST Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite, Stephen Baldwin * DIRECTOR Bryan Singer * WRITER Christopher McQuarrie * RATED R * THEATER Kabuki * EVALUATION ****<
©2000 San Francisco Examiner
originally printed by the Hearst Examiner Page C

‘The Usual Suspects’ (R)
By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 18, 1995

“THE USUAL Suspects,” starring Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey and a slew of others, is a smart-aleck murder mystery, the kind that layers itself with flashbacks, stories within stories and murky clues. You’re supposed to follow its demanding convolutions like a knowing tango partner or, at least, one of those bespectacled movie-school nerds, right down to the gasp-inducing punch line.
It’s intriguing for a while. The movie, written by Christopher McQuarrie and directed by Bryan Singer (together they made “Public Access,” a former Sundance Film Festival winner), starts with a ship explosion and the following title: San Pedro, California—Last Night. Twenty-seven people (we learn later) are killed in the blast, and an estimated $91 million in cocaine (we also learn later) goes up with them.
The story jumps six weeks earlier, as the police haul in five criminals: ex-cop Byrne, sleepy-eyed cripple Spacey, as well as amusing henchmen Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak and Benicio Del Toro. After trading friendly insults and comparing notes (it’s a small world, most of these guys know each other), the suspects realize they’ve been brought in on some trumped-up charge. When they’re finally sprung—the authorities have nothing on them—the five decide to take a little revenge on the NYPD for the unceremonious indignity.
At this point, you sit back for an enjoyable, criminal version of “Mission: Impossible,” in which crooks ingeniously get back at the bullying law. It’s a great team to watch. Byrne is a moody mystery, a sort of Pat Riley with menace and an Irish lilt. Spacey, in stark contrast to his hyper roles of before, is a credible, slow-witted, over-chatty loser, who merits the nickname Verbal. Baldwin, who gets better with every movie, is a charmingly obnoxious joker. Pollak, as usual, works ironic one-liners into his role. And Del Toro is a weird gem, with his just-off-the-boat butchery of the English language.
The interest level holds out a little longer, as the five are pulled in again—this time by Pete Postlethwaite, a polite criminal who claims to represent a mysterious presence (whom they never see) called Keyser Soze. Soze, apparently a nasty crime lord from Hungary with a Machiavellian hand in everything from Belfast to Pakistan, has a deal to make.
Apparently all five have—in unintentional ways—stolen from Soze. They, in effect, “owe him.” Soze—through Postlethwaite—gives them the opportunity to repay their debt and make some money besides. This is where the $91 million comes in.
Most of the action involving the five suspects occurs in flashback while Spacey is grilled by U.S. Customs agent Chazz Palminteri. And as Palminteri tries to pin down Soze’s identity, the exploits of Byrne, Baldwin et al. become less important. The Spacey interrogation becomes the main event. But although the character matchup is interesting (the bullying inspector versus the unreliable creep), you miss those other engaging lowlifes; the movie’s flashback-happy, time-bouncing structure feels like a long-winded interruption. Way before the grand finale (in which Keyser Soze’s secret threatens to be revealed), it becomes clear that “The Usual Suspects” is nothing more than an over-designed lobster pot. After following the beckoning twists and turns, you’re left trapped and more than a little disappointed for getting in so deep.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS (R) — Contains profanity and violence.
Copyright The Washington Post

FILM REVIEW — Truth Elusive in `Suspects’
Audience must sift through felon’s tale
MICK LaSALLE, Chronicle Staff Critic
Friday, August 18, 1995

THE USUAL SUSPECTS: Crime drama. Starring Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri and Kevin Spacey. Directed by Bryan Singer. (R. 105 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)

`The Usual Suspects” is an intricate crime drama in which neither the characters nor the audience is ever sure who is pulling the strings. As entertainment, the film is a lukewarm experience. But as a piece of construction, “The Usual Suspects” is a slick bit of business. Directed by Bryan Singer (“Public Access”), the picture, which opens today, deals with five felons who are brought together in a police lineup for a crime none of them committed. In a prison cell waiting to be released, they decide to make the inconvenience worth their while. They team up and plan a heist.
The opening 15 minutes show what actually happened. Most of the rest of the film is told from the standpoint of one of the crooks, Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), as he is being interrogated by a customs agent (Chazz Palminteri).
Like Demi Moore in “Mortal Thoughts,” Verbal is what is known as an “unreliable narrator.” He lies half the time, though all the stories he tells are presented in flashback as though they really happened. It’s up to the audience to sift through the facts and the fiction.
The role of Verbal is the kind actors love. He’s a crook suffering from some sort of palsy, so the possibilities for hamming it up are infinite. Spacey adopts a foot-dragging limp and a hand with the fingers locked in a sort of perpetual Vulcan greeting. He speaks in a precious, uninflected singsong, as though trying to screen himself from unpleasantness. It’s a fine performance.
Besides Verbal, the felon we see most is Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), an ex-con turned businessman. Keaton’s moral nature is one of the big questions of the picture. Is he a reluctant criminal or a mastermind? A loyal friend or a heartless monster? Seeing him from Verbal’s perspective, he’s a decent guy, the kind of brooding stoic that Byrne can play in his sleep.
But the real Keaton is elusive, and it’s only after some hard thinking once the movie is over that the viewer can be sure of the truth.
Give “The Usual Suspects” credit for uniqueness. Director Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie clearly aren’t dummies, and they’ve taken time to construct a puzzle that holds up under scrutiny.
There are occasional flashes of style. At the climax — a bloody, disastrous heist — the flamboyant thief McManus (Stephen Baldwin) utters just two words: “Bad day.” At other times “The Usual Suspects” is self-consciously bleak, its look derived from similar movies.
In the end, the nature of the setup keeps “The Usual Suspects” from developing an emotional hook. You can’t get involved with any particular character because all the characters are moving targets; you don’t know who they are. Throughout, the only thing really holding you to “The Usual Suspects” is the question, “OK, so what’s really going on?”
That’s enough. It’s just not much.
©2003 San Francisco Chronicle