Film Review: The Usual Suspects

After an explosion on a dock in Los Angeles, twenty-seven men lie dead, including hardened criminal Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), after what is supposed to be a drug deal gone wrong. Only two survivors, a Hungarian dockworker and small-time disabled crook Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), are brought into police custody. Questioned by federal agents, Kint begins to tell a story of theft, murder and apocryphal crime.

This is how Bryan Singer’s legendary film noir, The Usual Suspects, begins. Telling the story of the run-up to the attack on the dock, the film sees five career criminals including Keaton and Kint brought into a police line-up in New York. Following on from this chance meeting, they plan and execute several “jobs”. After this, they meet with the mysterious lawyer Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite), and it becomes clear that all five of the men are being controlled by the mysterious crime boss Keyser Söze, who gives them the dockyards job which goes so badly awry.

Parallel to this story, law enforcement agents are attempting to discover the identity of Söze – but in the end, the story has an unexpected twist.

The Usual Suspects won two Oscars – Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Spacey, and is a superb mystery film, with twists and turns right up to the final moment.