The Usual Suspects (Blu-ray)

What do you get when five felons are corralled for a lineup and shakedown to help the cops figure out who stole a truck of firearms? Answer: One of the greatest whodunit stories in movie history.  THE USUAL SUSPECTS delivers a unique, dialogue driven film that will leave you tense and shocked with creative storytelling, flashbacks and reveals.  While US Customs agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) questions gimpy criminal Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint (Kevin Spacey), a clever picture is painted from the fateful night of the shakedown and all of the events that lead to Kint’s questioning six weeks later.

Kevin Pollak, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Gabriel Byrne in The Usual Suspects

The misfit group of felons range from disgraced former cop, Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), partners in crime Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin) and Fred Fenster (Benicio Del Toro), hijacker Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollak) and the previously mentioned outcast, Verbal. As the thieving team carries out assorted jobs that take them from New York to Los Angeles, they are approached by Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite), a lawyer who represents the mysterious Turkish criminal mastermind, Keyser Soze.  Blackmailed to carry out a cocaine heist, the quintet reluctantly moves forward with the mission outlined by the never seen Soze. The all-star ensemble cast does an incredible job establishing a genuine fear when discussing Keyser Soze.  So much so, you will leave the movie associating that name with a criminal almost as terrifying as the devil himself.

Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects

The line-up scene in this 1995 flick is a classic and one of my favorites in this picture. Just by reading the line provided by those officiating the line-up, the five men put their own spin on it clearly identifying each suspect’s personality. I couldn’t stop laughing when it was Del Toro’s turn to read the line. He was brilliant with the delivery and his repeated reading was great. Out of the bunch, my favorite criminals were Del Toro and Baldwin, they seemed the most outrageous sharing a genuine friendship. From assuming a take charge position within the group to protecting Verbal the night of the Soze hired-heist Gabriel Byrne’s take on the shamed officer is perfectly smarmy. Seeing Keaton as the hot shot of the bunch, you can see why Officer Kujan has such a desperate desire to catch him in a criminal act and put him behind bars. I liked seeing Palminteri in this role and when he has his ah-ha moment, the facial reactions during that scene are priceless.

Pete Postlethwaite, Gabriel Byrne in The Usual Suspects

It is no wonder that Kevin Spacey won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in this picture. Playing a chatty man with cerebral palsy who is slightly annoying and wants to be notorious among his con-artist and criminal friends, the character could have been destroyed in another man’s hands.  Luckily Spacey works his magic and gives his character the right temperament of self-pity and conceitedness to propel him into the ranks of his new found gang. The physical transformation is subtly brilliant and I won’t go further than that with my praise fearing I’ll spoil all the great moments in this picture.

Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects

My only complaint are moments where the pacing seems slow but that is probably because I am too tense trying to solve the mystery. Overall, THE USUAL SUSPECTS is a quiet thrill and if you haven’t seen it before, I guarantee you will walk away from this movie with the score buzzing through your head, jaw dropped and wishing you could have picked up on all the pieces that suddenly fit at the close of the film.


Video (2.35:1): Decent Blu-ray transfer.

Audio (5.1 DTS HD Master Audio): Great audio for the ka-booms and all the dialogue.

I was surprised that there were zero special features on this Blu-ray release. It did, however, come in a book that gives bits of information about the story and the actors.



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