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The Usual Suspects(1995)
Held in an L.A. interrogation room, Verbal Kint attempts to convince the feds that a mythic crime lord not only exists, but was also responsible for drawing him and his four partners into a multi-million dollar heist that ended with an explosion in San Pedro harbor - leaving few survivors. But as Kint lures his interrogators into the incredible story of this crime lord's almost supernatural prowess, so too will you be mesmerized by a lore that is completely captivating from beginning to end!
For more about The Usual Suspects and the The Usual Suspects Blu-ray release, see the The Usual Suspects Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on November 26, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite, Kevin Spacey
Director: Bryan Singer
» See full cast & crew
The Usual Suspects Blu-ray Review
With 1080p resolution, the characters of Keaton, Verbal, McManus, Fenster and Hockney come to life as never before.
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, November 26, 2007
Boasting petty criminal characters conceived so brilliantly they achieve near-mythological status, The Usual Suspects is known for riveting suspense and action, an intriguing plotline and a jaw- dropping twist at the end. It also features some of the most memorable lines of the 1990s: "How do you shoot the devil in the back--what if you miss?" Best of all, the Blu-ray version's 1080p resolution allows viewers to rediscover this gem on a level that goes far beyond any DVD release. The characters, Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Fred Fenster (Benicio Del Toro), Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollak), Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) and Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite) now appear with visual details and cues and not available on NTSC.
The film is set in the aftermath of a ship fire that totally burns the cargo and crew. Though meek and disabled, Verbal is the only survivor to walk away from the incident unscathed. He is taken into custody and grilled by the police. Brilliantly played in a characteristic, understated style that earned Spacey an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Verbal is cleared and allowed to leave. But before he can go, agent Kujan from US Customs shows up to interrogate him. Kujan is trying to build a case against Keaton and he wants Verbal to testify in exchange for immunity. Verbal refuses, but Kujan still bullies Verbal into recounting his story of Keaton, McManus, Fenster and Hockney, leading up to the explosion on the ship.
What follows is a fantastic yarn of lies and half-truths sprinkled within the facts of the case. It is all masterfully portrayed as a series of flashbacks while Verbal and Kujan sip coffee and talk in the LA police station. The story begins six weeks earlier in New York City as Verbal and the other four criminals are brought in to stand side-by-side in a police lineup. None of them are formally charged with a crime, and there are indications Keaton has actually gone straight prior to the roundup. But before they are released, the five hatch a plan to get revenge on the corrupt NYPD and make a large sum of money in the process by robbing a police-protected jewel smuggler and leaking news of the police involvement to the press. Keaton is reluctant and must be coaxed into it with the promise that no one will be killed in the heist. He agrees and the quintet pulls off the robbery to perfection. The acting and writing take chances that pay off, with each actor fully immersing himself in his role. Del Toro creates a uniquely colorful persona in his portrayal of Fenster, Baldwin conveys a reckless abandon and lust for violence, Pollak shows steely courage and resolve, Byrne is a complex mesh of toughness with motives pulling him in all directions. Each actor is at the top of his game.
The five criminals go to Los Angeles to lay low in the aftermath of the New York heist. There, they are enticed into another robbery that is also supposed to involve no killing. Unfortunately, this LA heist goes horribly wrong. As Verbal recounts this carnage, its aftermath and the growing problems and hostility in the crew, agent Kujan receives a tip from one of his colleagues who has a survivor pulled from the water near the charred wreckage of the ship. The witness is badly burned and cannot speak English, but insists that the man responsible for the destruction of life and property on the ship is named Kaiser Soze.
Armed with this news, Kujan confronts Verbal who reacts as if upset that Kujan has been tipped off about Soze. Verbal's story suggests that it may have been Soze who orchestrated the police lineup in New York and the robbery gone awry in LA. He picks up the narration again as the five criminals meet a mysterious lawyer, Kobayashi, who indirectly gave them the LA job. It is Kobayashi who demands they ransack the ship and assassinate the crew. Kobayashi describes it as a very difficult job. "I do not expect all of you to survive," he says. When Keaton and the others refuse, Kobayashi tells them he works for Soze who each of them has unwittingly wronged in the past. Soze is demanding the ship heist as a final favor in exchange for not harming the five or their families or associates. To prove Soze's threat is real, Kobayashi produces envelopes for the five men containing a complete record of every one of their crimes, accomplices and family members. "Everyone I've ever worked with or did time with," Fenster says. "They know everything," Hockney says.
Not easily bullied, the quintet decides to strong-arm Kobayashi, murdering two of his associates and bringing him to a construction site to assassinate him. But he has already outwitted them by involving Keaton's girlfriend and showing Keaton that she is now in Soze's control. He threatens that, should any harm come to him, the girl will meet with an unsavory violation before her death, as will other friends and family of the quintet. Kobayashi is not afraid of death because if he does not do Soze's bidding, his fate would be worse than death and he promises theirs will be too. Now thoroughly spooked, the quintet realizes it is pointless to kill Kobayashi, as he is just a middleman. Fenster decides to flee LA, but doesn't make it. As the rest of them learn of his death and bury the body, they decide they have no choice but to comply with Soze's demands to storm the ship.
But who is Kaiser Soze? Did he orchestrate the police lineup in New York, and pull all the strings ever since? Is the cargo of the ship drugs or only human cargo? Why did Verbal survive unharmed while so many others did not? Did Keaton really die, as Verbal insists, or did he slip away, as Kujan believes? Is Verbal telling the truth? Much is revealed in the final moments of the film, which wash over the viewer like an enormous wave of recognition. Snippets of dialogue from earlier in the film are montaged over the complex score, providing spine-tingling clues about exactly what part of Verbal's yarn was fact and what was fiction. The final snippet of dialogue, followed by a fortissimo string finale is especially powerful: "and like that...he was gone."
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