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Who is Keyser Soze? Your friends probably asked you that question while they were watching the movie because you had already seen it and refused to tell them. Pretty soon everyone in the film is asking the same question. And yes, you’ll get your answer. This isn’t some kind of tease where the answer is some cop out like “it’s whoever you want it to be” or any of that nonsense. Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie answers the question all over again with “The Usual Suspects” on Blu-ray Book from MGM.
A $91 million cocaine heist. A devastating boat explosion. Two survivors. U.S. Customs special agent David Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) is determined to find out who and what’s behind the melee. As he pieces the clues together with the help of a half-charred Hungarian gangster and an outspoken, crippled con man from New York, Kujan soon finds out this story actually begins with five criminal minds…and one infamous master mind.
First of all? Man, what a cast. Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri, Pete Postlethwaite, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak and Stephen Baldwin. Yes, even little Stevie and part-time comedian/actor Kevin Pollak hit it out of the park in this one. Casting aside, though, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie’s “The Usual Suspects” was a twist movie to end all twist movies. A film that had everyone asking, “Who is Keyser Soze”? throughout and even well after the film ended. This is one clever little scamp, the kind of movie where paying attention was rewarded, though let’s face it, it didn’t always play fair.
The film is told in flashbacks, beginning with an assortment of criminal types (the usual suspects, if you will) being brought in for line-up when a truck is hijacked. Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), an ex-cop turned criminal turned reformed businessman. Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), a talkative cripple and small-time conman. Partners McManus (Stephen Baldwin) and Fenster (Benicio Del Toro). And lastly, tough-talking explosives guy Hockney (Kevin Pollak). Pretty soon, the criminals decide to make the most of their little troubles and hatch a plan to work together on an upcoming job. Keaton is reluctant, but eventually realizes that just because he says he’s retired, it doesn’t mean anyone, especially the cops, will let him stay out of it.
When their first job goes as planned, the fivesome decide to hightail it to Los Angeles to lay low. There, they are offered a job they can’t refuse: a day’s work in return for a cool $91 million to be divided between the five of them. How do you say No to that? Well, they actually can’t, because they’ll be working for the legendary Keyser Soze, a mythical criminal who may or may not actually exist, but if he does exist, you surely would not want to cross him. It’s up to Customs agent Chazz Palminteri, who has something of a mad hardon for Keaton, and a high-strung FBI man (Giancarlo Esposito) to unravel the mystery of the missing drug money, dead bodies galore, and the legend that is Keyser Soze.
What’s even more impressive about “The Usual Suspects” was that it was directed by a then 30-year old Bryan Singer, whose only feature film credit up to that time was a little-seen indie called “Public Access” a year earlier. Singer had co-wrote “Access” with Christopher McQuarrie, the screenwriter of “The Usual Suspects”. The two men have gone on to do bigger and better things, but “Suspects” remains their best and might just end up as their most enduring collaboration. Without a doubt, the duo were blessed with one hell of a talented cast, but it still took a clever and engaging script and a sure hand at the director’s chair to bring it all together. And man, did they ever bring it together. Besides its twist, “The Usual Suspects” is one hell of a crime film.
Blu-ray Book Review:
As with MGM’s other Blu-ray Book releases, if you were a fan of “The Usual Suspects” then there’s a good chance you already have the film in a variety of formats, including Blu-ray. The only difference with this release is, of course, the “Blu-ray Book” format. Inside the “book”, you get making-of photos and a couple of articles on the film’s continued popularity.
In terms of special features, well, sorry, you’re out of luck. You get the theatrical trailer for the movie, plus trailers for eight other titles and that’s about it, folks. Amazingly, this Blu-ray release doesn’t even include any of the goodies that appeared in earlier releases. As in, none at all. I have no idea what they were thinking when they put this out, but there you have it. Hey, at least the cover is, you know, sturdy.