johnlink ranks THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1994)

I won’t be shy in saying that THE USUAL SUSPECTS is one of my favorite films ever. It’s always been swirling in the top three with SHAWSHANK and THE PRINCESS BRIDE. But, I hadn’t seen it in awhile and thought I’d pop in my brand new Blu Ray and check it out again. If you have not seen the movie, don’t make the jump below. There are SPOILERS to follow. Just know I recommend it as strongly as I can recommend anything.

The film is about a team of criminals who are commanded to do a job by the mysterious Keyser Soze.

I watched THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1994) on 7.14.09. It was, I would guess, somewhere around my thirteen or fourteenth viewing of the film, though it was the first time I’d seen it in several years.



Does this movie have one of the great twists of all time? Certainly. But the greatness of this film isn’t in its twist alone. This is truly a film where you can go back, view again, and ask yourself several questions. How much in Kint’s story is made up? How reliable are the flashbacks? When are we getting truth, and when is the truth skewed? This is a highly re-watchable film.

The pacing is perfect. The lighting is beautifully realized, and the colorization is vivid and symbolic. The pools of light in the interview rooms create a mood that a normal interrogation would not have been able to sustain. The shot of Keaton behind two-way glass, where you can only see him because he is in the shadow of another man, is one of my favorite shots in cinema. The music is amazing, and so is the editing. Both of those jobs, in a rare case of multi-tasking in Hollywood, are done by the same man: John Ottman. This was Bryan Singer’s debut film on a decent budget, and he made a wonderful movie. I’ll always see anything Bryan Singer directs because of it. SCORE: 10


As I said above, highly re-watchable. I still pick up on small details I hadn’t noticed. In a way, this is a movie better appreciated the second time, when you can sit back, know the twist, and enjoy Spacey’s performance as he spins this tale. As a bonus, this is one of the funniest caper films ever shot. I know OCEAN’S ELEVEN is thought of as more of a comedy than THE USUAL SUSPECTS, but I find the latter to have more laugh-out-loud moments. SCORE: 10


This is one of the mid-90s movies which shot Spacey into the public conscious, and for good reason. His performance is layered, and he does more with his eyes in this film than most do in a career. THE USUAL SUSPECTS also put Benicio Del Toro (“he’ll flip you… flip you for real”) on the map, as well as giving a great actor, Gabriel Byrne, one of his defining roles. The chemistry between the five criminals is fantastic. Some of the support provides less than perfect acting (I’ve never been a fan of Suzy Amis as Edie Finneran) but it only slightly takes from the whole. SCORE: 9


Script perfection. As a teenager I wanted to start writing scripts because of PULP FICTION and THE USUAL SUSPECTS. Christopher McQuarrie’s script does everything well. This movie is great because of its script, not in spite of it (as many of today’s films are). It produces one of the great end twists ever, but is not a movie (like the recently ranked PERFECT STRANGER) which lives in its twist. This movie is about the set-up, and that is how it should be. SCORE: 10




FINAL SCORE: 9.75, making it my highest ranked movie so far!

~ by johnlink00 on July 15, 2009.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1994)”

  1. […] The Usual Suspects  […]

  2. […] best movies I saw comes as a three way tie. Going into this year, only THE USUAL SUSPECTS had ever hit an overall score of 9.75 (nothing has ever hit 10). This year, SHAWSHANK, THE INSIDER, […]

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