Movie of the Day: The Usual Suspects (1995)

04 Mar


Back in 1995 when this movie came out,  it was hailed as a great masterwork of screenwriting. I remember that people held onto the final twist in much the same way that they did for Force Awakens. Yet, the first time I saw the movie I got distracted because wasn’t sure that I was keeping up with the plot properly. So, halfway through the movie I started over and, remote in hand, I determined to keep up with every little bit of the plot, every little bit of dialogue so that the shocking twist at the end (which I had heard was coming, though I knew no details) would actually come as a shock to me. Whenever I felt that the plot was leaving me, I rewound the movie a bit so that I could catch up. I didn’t simply watch the movie, I studied it.

And then the big reveal came . . . and I couldn’t care less.


What I got from the ending of this movie was manipulation, not revelation. The movie is about a group of third-rate criminals who engineer a theft of millions of dollars in cocaine from a nightmarish Hungarian mobster so infamous and so mythological that he might as well be turning people’s hair white at the mere mention of his name.

One of the gang named Verbal Kint, the survivor of a boat explosion, tells the entire story in a police captain’s office. He talks and talks and talks and talks and TALKS and TALKS!! He talks so much that he takes what is a very simple heist plot and turns it into some kind of literary confection that needed to be trimmed by at least 25 pages, it’s exhausting.

What we get from the reveal, I must tell you, is one of the limpest anti-climaxes that I have ever experienced. I supposed that I am to be amazed that all of Spacey’s truth telling is complete bull-flop. I suppose that manipulation of the police captain and the revelation of Verbal’s true nature is suppose to mean something. Honestly, I felt cheated. If what Verbal told the captain is completely made up, didn’t that just waste the last two hours of my life? What’s the real story? Why do I care? Why did this movie win two Oscars?  Was this trip really necessary?


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