Director Bryan Singer's labyrinthine crime drama centers on five career criminals (played by Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak, and Stephen Baldwin) who meet after being rounded up for a standard police line-up. Upon their release, the men band together to pull off an intricate heist involving $3 million worth of emeralds. Their success brings them to the attention of the enigmatic Keyser Soze, an unseen, nefarious, and mythic underworld crime figure who coerces them into pulling off an important and highly dangerous job. The scenes that follow make THE USUAL SUSPECTS one of the most fascinating crime thrillers in cinema history.
Working from the Oscar-winning screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Singer adroitly tells the complex story through flashbacks, cross-cutting, and voice-over narration. Such nimble handling of the intricacies of the nonlinear narrative adds to the suspense, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats until the clever, satisfying finale. Singer's expertise in the technical aspects of filmmaking--his use of a dioptic filter to keep two close-up faces in focus, as well as his inventive use of six-frame step printing--helped him earn his reputation as a visually impressive and stylish director. Filled with excellent performances from veteran actors (Kevin Spacey won his first Academy Award for his breakthrough role as Verbal Kint), THE USUAL SUSPECTS placed Singer squarely on the cinematic map.
1995 - Academy Awards - Best Supporting Actor Winner
1995 - Academy Awards - Best Original Screenplay Winner
Chazz Palminteri - Actor/Screenwriter
Stephen Baldwin - American Actor
Gabriel Byrne - Irish Actor - Miller's Crossing/The Man in the Iron Mask
Suzy Amis - American Actress
Newton Thomas Sigel - Director of Photography, CASINO (1995)
Tom Sigel - Director of Photography, CASINO (1995)
Bryan Singer - American director
Howard Cummings - Production Designer, THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)
Christopher McQuarrie - Screenwriter
Giancarlo Esposito - Actor
Kevin Spacey - American actor
Louise Mingenbach - Costume Designer, THE RUNDOWN (2003)
John Ottman - Composer/Editor, SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006)
Kevin Pollak - American actor, comedian
Kevin Pollack - American actor, comedian
Benicio Del Toro - Actor, TRAFFIC (2000)
THE USUAL SUSPECTS is an intricately plotted and suspenseful tale about five very different crime suspects who meet while in a police line-up. After the quintet's fortuitous encounter, they decide to band together and attempt their own big heist by robbing a smuggler of $3 million worth of emeralds. However, the following job proves much more dangerous....
Theatrical release: August 11, 1995. Shot on location in New York City and Los Angeles, California. Christopher McQuarrie wrote the screenplay with actor Kevin Spacey in mind. THE USUAL SUSPECTS won both Oscars for which it was nominated: Best Supporting Actor (Kevin Spacey) and Best Screenplay (Christopher McQuarrie). Kevin Spacey also won Best Supporting Actor honors from the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Awards, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Seattle Film Festival, Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Dallas-Fort Worth Area Film Critics Association, the Society of Texas Film Critics, and the Chicago Film Critics Awards for his work on the film. THE USUAL SUSPECTS won 3 British Academy Awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. THE USUAL SUSPECTS won 2 Independent Spirit Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Benicio Del Toro). Bryan Singer won Best Director honors from the Seattle International Film Festival and the Tokyo Silver Award. John Ottman won the Saturn Award for Best Musical Score. Singer and McQuarrie say the original tagline for the film was: "All of you can go to hell." Singer and McQuarrie first invisioned the role of Fenster as a "Harry Dean Stanton" type, before Singer hired Benicio Del Toro, against McQuarrie's objections. Kevin Spacey researched his role as Verbal Kint by visiting the Cerebral Palsy Center. He filed down his shoes and glued his fingers together to better emulate the limitations of physical disability. Stephen Baldwin did all of his own stunts for the film. The scene where Redfoot (Peter Greene) flicks his cigarette at McManus (Stephen Baldwin) is real, but unintended. The cigarette accidentally went into Baldwin's eye--it was aimed at his chest. The line, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist," is similar to a line from Charles Baudelaire's short story, THE GENEROUS GAMBLER, published in 1864. In translation, the original line reads, "Dearly beloved, never forget, when you hear anyone vaunt the progress of enlightenment, that the Devil's finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist!" The ending "revelation scene" with Agent Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) was originally conceived to have no additional footage or sound. Singer later added the visual and audio flashbacks when people suggested it was too confusing. The Hungarian spoken in the film was dubbed in afterwards. The actors in the scene are speaking English. Bryan Singer's mother plays the nurse who receives the drawing of Keyser Soze to fax to the police. The title comes from the famous line, "Round up the usual suspects" from the classic film, CASABLANCA. The film grossed $84,852 in its opening week.
"...True resonance: It's clever way down deep..." - Recommended - 02/01/1996 Premiere, pp.91-2
"...A film of hypnotic and haunting resonance..." - 09/07/1995 Rolling Stone, p.75-6
"...One of the most densely plotted mysteries in memory..." - 08/18/1995 USA Today, p.11D
"...Showily complex....When you catch on, you may feel elated..." -- Rating: B - 09/22/1995 Entertainment Weekly, p.63
"...An ironic, bang-up thriller about the wages of crime. A terrific cast of exciting actors socks over this absorbingly complicated yarn that's been spun in seductively slick fashion..." - 01/30/1995 Variety