Damn. Let's count the good things, shall we: the script, the casting, the direction, the cinematography, Gabriel Byrne (yummmmm), the production--ok, virtually everything about The Usual Suspects is good.A story of crime in L.A. and New York. Five common-denominator NYC crooks get picked up (the title characters--Usual Suspects--these are the guys who the police always come after) and in their jail cell, decide to pull a pretty hefty jewel heist in L.A. Only one gets out alive. Hmmm... A clever whodunit and the end drops jaws. Beware.
This is definitely the kind of movie that you need to pay attention to. If there are people in the room talking, kick them out--bratty kid siblings or drunk college kids are the worst, especially the latter if they've already seen the movie and you haven't, as they'll do their absolute best to wreck every cool detail with no remorse whatsoever. The subtleties of the plot are found in careful viewing, and in many cases, repeated watchings. The director drops hints through the entire film as to who the bad guy is, if he even exists. And that's really the kicker. People in this movie are not who they seem. Or are they? No one knows! Hurray for intelligent filmmaking.
I think the only downside to The Usual Suspects was the immediate proliferation of "clever" dramatic flimmaking. Probably the best example post-Suspects was either L.A. Confidential or The Sixth Sense. The plots twist in ways that make brains wonder how Russian contortionists do it and then, they do it again. Which is cool. But only if you can pull it off as both a screenwriter and a director AND you have to have one hell of a cast to do it right. Casting has to be impeccable in these because audiences are smart enough, if they understand the movies to begin with, to tell if an actor's badly cast.
Anyway. Back to the show. Some highlights: The porcelain cup. The newspaper article. The burned guy. Gabriel Byrne (yummmmmmm....). The cops. The fax machine. The boat. The gunshots. The storytelling. KEVIN FUCKING SPACEY (who knew then?).Go see. Turn off lights and kick people out and leave yourself to absorb those lovely plot points. One of my all-time faves.