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The Usual Suspects (1995)

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A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.

Director:

Bryan Singer
Popularity
456 ( 14)
Top Rated Movies #26 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 35 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen Baldwin ... McManus
Gabriel Byrne ... Keaton
Benicio Del Toro ... Fenster
Kevin Pollak ... Hockney
Kevin Spacey ... Verbal
Chazz Palminteri ... Dave Kujan
Pete Postlethwaite ... Kobayashi
Suzy Amis ... Edie Finneran
Giancarlo Esposito ... Jack Baer
Dan Hedaya ... Jeff Rabin
Paul Bartel ... Smuggler
Carl Bressler ... Saul Berg
Phillipe Simon Phillipe Simon ... Fortier
Jack Shearer ... Renault
Christine Estabrook ... Dr. Plummer
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Storyline

Following a truck hijack in New York, five conmen are arrested and brought together for questioning. As none of them are guilty, they plan a revenge operation against the police. The operation goes well, but then the influence of a legendary mastermind criminal called Keyser Söze is felt. It becomes clear that each one of them has wronged Söze at some point and must pay back now. The payback job leaves 27 men dead in a boat explosion, but the real question arises now: Who actually is Keyser Söze? Written by Soumitra

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The truth is always in the last place you look. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and a substantial amount of strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA | Germany

Language:

English | Hungarian | Spanish | French

Release Date:

15 September 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die üblichen Verdächtigen See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$645,363, 20 August 1995, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$23,341,568

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$34,449,356
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of Fenster was named after the German for window, and originally conceived as the oldest man of the group, a more seasoned veteran. Benicio Del Toro was originally asked to audition for the role of McManus. Del Toro asked to audition for the role of Fenster, telling director Bryan Singer that he had an "idea" for the part. The unintelligible way that Fenster spoke was Del Toro's idea, and Singer decided to go with it. In one scene, Hockney says, in response to Fenster, "What did he just say?" That was Kevin Pollak the actor speaking, not his character; he actually did not understand what Fenster said. The cop's (Christopher McQuarrie) reaction to Fenster in the line-up ("In English please") was unscripted and unrehearsed, as was Fenster's rather strong reaction. See more »

Goofs

Shot of a landing Jumbo Jet (four-engined Boeing 747) becomes a twin-engined 767 a moment later. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Keyser Soze: How you doing Keaton?
Keaton: I can't feel my legs... Keyser.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The editor, John Ottman, edited the movie on film. He felt that all the editing done electronically at the time was horrible because all the good editors were still working on film (which is much more difficult). Because of this he thought about putting "Edited on a piece of s*** Steenbeck" at the end of the credits, but instead settled for the more subtle line "Edited on film." Tim Robbins was directing 'Dead Man Walking' at the time and heard about John's idea, which sparked that film's credit ending of "This film was edited on old machines." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Fargo: Aporia (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Le sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir
Performed by Jon Kull
Music by Claude Debussy
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
the American thriller of the nineties
12 December 2005 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

One day in a bookshop, I flipped through a book entitled: "the movies of the nineties" and this movie wasn't included! How can a book specialized in cinema skip such a milestone of the last decade? Any movie buff, any cinema critic must have considered the nineties a fruitful era for the American thriller. According to one's tastes, some will say that the best thriller of the nineties is "Silence of the Lambs" (1991). For others it will be "Pulp Fiction" (1994) while others will praise to the skies "Se7en" (1995). For me, the pinnacle is this present movie, "the Usual Suspects" (1995) with its staggering story (to put it mildly). It's a sensational debut for Bryan Singer which enabled to put him on the map. With a little help from his accomplice Christopher McQuarrie, he signed an unparalleled gem in the landscape of the American thriller, even the whole cinema.

The average viewer who watches "the Usual Suspects" for the first time might think that the whole crew concocted him a meandering story with as a leading thread, Spacey's convoluted story. At the end of the projection, he may feel puzzled and will probably wish to watch the movie a second time. He won't regret it and Singer and McQuarrie will rejoice at it. Their masterwork gains by several repeated viewings to appreciate the subtleties of a rich movie with a convoluted construction which will take its seemingly definitive form in the five last minutes. To watch "the Usual Suspects" is like gathering the pieces of an intriguing puzzle, a little like any other suspenseful movie but in the case of Singer's flick, one will never really be able to completely end it. So many things happen in less than two hours that we are never really sure of what we watch and this is reinforced by a breathtaking unexpected twist at the end which makes our assumptions falter. Singer and McQuarrie take a mischievous delight in taking the viewer in their nebulous scenario and to follow it according to Spacey's declarations and it's obvious that they raise more questions than answers. It's up to the viewer to make his imagination work and to bring his thoughts on the film. This is what inspires its pernicious charm.

From Spacey's story, the authors developed a top quality script, set with clockwork precision. Singer's directorial style virtually evolutes on the razor's edge and conveys an increasing tension. It is filled with ingenious visual ideas and served by fluid camera movements. Singer was in his early thirties when he shot his film but it presents the signs of a seasoned author. There's also a tight editing and a unsettling score which cement the movie in its place of winner. More remarkable, the authors pull off with gusto to increase the audience's curiosity throughout the film in spite of a somewhat deliberate confusion and the interest won't weaken until the end which constitute the apex: an unexpected twist which will leave the audience speechless once they understood it. In Singer's flick, it doesn't disappoint because there are little but noticeable visual and verbal clues which justify it. However, it has something unsettling. We believe that we are at the end of the maze but there's more to the picture than meets the eye. Maybe this "coup de theatre" veils one more truth. Maybe also the shrewdest ones will have guessed it but the result is the same for any viewer: Singer puts a baffled spectator in his pocket.

Singer and Quarrie show a perfect master in the domain of the film noir: an ominous atmosphere, nocturnal scenes which stay rooted in the mind and a deep psychology of certain characters which give more substance to the film. Considering the last point, the character of Gabriel Byrne is the most interesting one: a former crooked cop who seemingly redeemed himself in catering but caught up by his past and forced to come back to work. I personally think that Byrne is the stand-out of the topflight cast the movie boasts. But don't neglect the other members. Kevin Spacey pocketed a deservedly Oscar in 1996 and the rest of the cast doesn't stay on the bench. Maybe Singer grants a little shallow attention to the three others baddies in the gang but in a way it's necessary to underscore the fact that they're lousy gangsters embroiled in a infernal spiral and unable to perceive what lies beneath all this. Pete Postlewhaite and Chazz Palminteri make their scenes count too.

A riveting storytelling, a painstaking flash-back, a tight and first-class directing, a thoughtful twist, a topnotch cast, "the Usual Suspects" includes almost everything a director would sell his soul for. Everything contributes to make it a stalwart model in the suspenseful movie and the whole cinema. After the first vision, be prepared for mental gymnastics and for a second screening...


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