The Usual Suspects (1995)
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Chazz Palmintieri, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite
On the surface, The Usual Suspects sounds like a hybrid of Reservoir Dogs and Rashomon, with its exploration of an elaborate criminalistic plot gone wrong, as recounted by its seemingly untrustworthy lone survivor. And, truth be told, that's exactly how director Bryan Singer's twisty thriller plays out. Except that, well, it's much more complicated than that.
Without divulging too much of the film's enigmatic pleasures, The Usual Suspects takes the traditional thieves-gone-wild premise and, like Tarantino's aforementioned Reservoir Dogs, totally subverts it with a large dose of Agatha Christie-level intrigue.
Who is Keyser Soze? Why would these loser deviants sign up for what's so clearly a suicide mission? And how in the hell were Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie able to pull the imaginary rug out from under viewers with a final reveal that should be obvious but is nonetheless a mind-scrambler? —MB