#24: The Usual Suspects (1995)

When and how did I watch this?

April 18th, 2017, on Hulu.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

This is a definitive crime drama cult classic.  I was fourteen when it was released, and I could not have been less interested in seeing it at the time.

What do I know about it now?

Five suspected criminals are rounded up in a formality to cover up a corrupt investigation, and they become buddies initially looking to seek revenge against the police, but falling into a couple more messes before stumbling upon a big heist headed up by a mysterious Hungarian crime overlord named Soze. The story is told from the perspective of “Verbal” Kint, being interrogated by the police after the heist had gone wrong leaving several dead, including his buddies. I admit that I was lost in the plot early on, though I found the overall arc satisfying in the end. Also, the revered twist, I felt, was cornball and predictable, but presented well enough to make for a compelling finale. Kevin Spacey is the runaway bright spot in the film, playing a seemingly minor role that turns into the most important character and doing so brilliantly.  Credit to the screenplay as well — it’s something I’ve never seen before.  I just wish it were executed in a less convoluted manner.

What are some themes in the film?

Greed, pride, revenge, drug trade/trafficking, subjective truth

Did this affect me personally?

The film as a whole wasn’t particularly moving in any way to me.  There is a scene involving the no-faced criminal killing his family, filmed in a blurry/low frame rate fashion to reduce its terrible nature, but it didn’t really lessen its impact on me.

Why is this ranked #24?

The screenplay and Spacey’s performance are huge factors in its favor among the viewers.  It’s a crime drama released in the mid 90s, which resonates with the age demographic and overall taste of IMDb voters.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She enjoyed the setup and Spacey’s performance likewise, but overall felt it was boring.

Would I watch it again?

Nah.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

It has that film noir feel from the 40s going for it, and it’s certainly a creative screenplay.  It might be worth your time.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

From my perspective, and with the context of the rest of these films on the IMDb Top 250 (especially its neighbors), The Usual Suspects doesn’t stand very tall. It’s certainly not a bad movie — it’s clever, quick, and has fine acting throughout, but it blends in with other movies on the list and is largely forgettable in the context of truly great films. It’s obvious that Spacey is making a handful of these movies on the list work, and I’m acquiring a high level of respect for him. Nonetheless, it’s a struggle to deem this one worthy of its rank.

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