Friday, May 30, 2014

Movie Review #18: The Usual Suspects

Another Netflix find, I decided to watch The Usual Suspects because... I dunno. I heard it was good. I kinda had the ending spoiled for me a while back, which is bound to happen for a 20 year old movie.

That said, if you already know the ending, the movie is definitely still worth watching; the ending means nothing without the buildup, and it's the buildup that makes this movie great.

Five crooks are pulled into a police station as part of a lineup. They don't know each other, but while they're together they come up with a job that will make them rich.

However, something clearly went wrong, as the story is being told by one of the crew, explaining the events afterward to the police, with the rest of the crew apparently dead. The movie unfolds as the cops try to drag the truth from their captive before he makes bail.


"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist."

Probably the most famous line from the movie, it's also probably the theme: if you don't perceive a threat, you can't guard against it.

I'm going to delve into the more general review stuff before getting into spoiler territory:

First, the actors are all just excellent: from the cops to the criminals, each character feels distinct and fun to watch. You'd be entertained all the way through, even if it was just these characters on screen for an hour and a half.

It helps that the story is a compelling one, told in a unique way. Whether you agree with their methods or not, you find yourself siding with the cops, trying to find the truth in Verbal's story. It's a fun ride.

In short, if you haven't seen the movie, I think you'll like it.

Now I'll be getting into spoiler territory.

You have been warned.

The big mystery of the movie is: who is Kayser Soze?

The movie played on the Devil's trick in two major ways: one to lead you away from the truth, another to disguise the truth.

The character of Keaton is the first part of that: a strangely relatable crook, trying to get out of the criminal life, only to get sucked back in. He seems like no danger, which is the point: you're fall for his "act," then feel very smart when you "realize" he had been playing Verbal all along. The police see it this way right away, and agent Kujal keeps the suspicion on Keaton all the way through.

So, eventually Verbal gives him what he wants, though he was playing him all the while.

It's really brilliant how non-threatening Verbal acts the entire time. Though the audience is to take the side of the cops in trying to find the truth, we likewise find ourselves relating to Verbal, considering him the protagonist. In seeming as pathetic as possible, we play into his hands as surely as the cops do. It's a magnificent performance; a deception that, honestly, deserves it comparison to the King of Lies.

Well done.

No comments:

Post a Comment