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The Usual Suspects (1995)


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 68
Fresh: 60
Rotten: 8

Critics Consensus: Expertly shot and edited, The Usual Suspects gives the audience a simple plot and then piles on layers of deceit, twists, and violence before pulling out the rug from underneath.

Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 21
Fresh: 18
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: Expertly shot and edited, The Usual Suspects gives the audience a simple plot and then piles on layers of deceit, twists, and violence before pulling out the rug from underneath.


Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 428,989



Movie Info

Near the end of The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey, in his Oscar-winning performance as crippled con man Roger "Verbal" Kint, says, "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." This may be the key line in this story; the farther along the movie goes, the more one realizes that not everything is quite what it seems, and what began as a conventional whodunit turns into something quite different. A massive explosion rips through a ship in a San Pedro, CA, … More

R (for violence and a substantial amount of strong language)
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Christopher McQuarrie
In Theaters:
Dec 9, 1999
Gramercy Pictures


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Critic Reviews for The Usual Suspects

All Critics (68) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (60) | Rotten (8) | DVD (39)

An imaginative, entertaining crime mystery with plenty of nerve and vigor.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
Seattle Times
Top Critic

If the pleasures of The Usual Suspects are the more superficial ones of ingenuity and style, those are abundantly available. The twists and turns of the plot are an awful lot of fun, while the ending is genuinely satisfying and surprising.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

In a season of fat blockbusters, a picture as brainy, bitter, and compact as this one comes as a shock and a treat.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

It's a nerve-shredding suspense movie about corruption, a bravura actor's show full of deliciously twisted cops and robbers, and a complex riddle packed with unexpected turns.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

For many true movie fiends, noir is the key American movie type, and the most fun when it's done right. The Usual Suspects is done right.

Full Review… | January 18, 2013
Top Critic

I didn't believe this story for a minute, even in movie terms -- though it's less offensive than a piece of junk like Apt Pupil, Singer's subsequent feature.

Full Review… | March 28, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Singer, like Tarantino, is less into mining new film themes than in re-inventing old ones. And the way he does so shows full well that there is still a bit of life in the old mob movie yet.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
Spokesman-Review (Washington)

It stands up brilliantly to repeat viewing, to the extent that you may never fully solve the riddle. But don't let that put you off; it's the ultimate whodunit.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
Sky Movies

It's a film that demands to be watched again and again -- this is good old-fashioned pulp fiction told in the slickest 1990s style.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
Radio Times

Give director Bryan Singer credit for providing a plot that is not resolved by an exchange of gunfire, but don't expect the movie's glib punchline to stay with you for very long.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
Philadelphia Daily News

Metaphysical mumbo-jumbo? Of course -- but the thrill of The Usual Suspects is that, after years of movie demythologising, it re-mythologises the crime movie.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013

The most attuned devotee of crime mystery will be hard-pressed to guess the outcome of this stylish thriller. It is riddled with machine-gun dialogue and kinky implications at every turn.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The then 27-year-old Bryan Singer eclipsed most other '90s crime movies with this brilliantly slippery, cerebral thriller.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
Total Film

It may ultimately make sense; no one could tell without at least four or five viewings. What is totally commanding, however, is the level of ensemble acting [and] the adroitness of the storytelling.

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
Baltimore Sun

A little red herring is one thing. But don't smack me in the face with it, all right?

Full Review… | June 18, 2013
People Magazine

A masterpiece of the modern film noir genre, a terrific performance piece for everyone involved and an absolutely outstanding directorial effort.

Full Review… | January 29, 2012

While it's fair to call The Usual Suspects a gimmick in search of a movie, one could say something similar of, say, an Agatha Christie mystery. [Blu-ray]

Full Review… | June 1, 2011
Groucho Reviews

Anything but usual, Singer's movie is pretty damn near untouchable. Next to this, most other crime films feel petty.

Full Review… | March 28, 2011

Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie's tough-guy dialogue and Bryan Singer's crisp direction give the ensemble cast every opportunity to shine, and they do.

Full Review… | March 28, 2011
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Bryan Singer's poker face is worthless at best.

Full Review… | February 27, 2010
Projection Booth

Audience Reviews for The Usual Suspects


A group of hardened career criminals find themselves in the same police line up and decide to use the opportunity to pull a lucrative heist, little knowing that their strings are being pulled by a notoriously ruthless underworld figure. Bryan Singer's debut was a beautifully crafted crime thriller taking a lot of cues from the classics of Film Noir such as the Killing and The Asphalt Jungle using an excellent ensemble cast and ingenious plotting to keep you guessing as the plot twists and turns like a writhing serpent trying to wriggle free your grasp. It's one of those films you wish you could see for the first time again and again but although it clearly suffers if you know the cunning twist in the tale, The Usual Suspects still has much to offer during repeat viewings. It may lack the weightier characterisation of the likes of Heat or L.A. Confidential, but it's still easily one of the best crime stories of recent years and I implore anyone who hasn't had the ending spoiled for them yet to watch it ASAP while you still can!

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer


Skeletal budget. Classy realization. To conceive that as little as six million dollars went into the making of this film - that's 2% of the production expense of The Dark Knight Rises mind you - is, in one word, flabbergasting. And if that doesn't arch an eyebrow, perhaps the actuality that it was directed by a 30-year-old Bryan Singer (who at the time had but one feature film and one little anonymous short in his luggage) will.

Needless to say, it takes the savviest sort of visionary to pull off a tour de force of the kind. A magician even, grinding a coarse piece of coal until it becomes a bright, shiny diamond. Like many promising young film-makers though, it seems he has now tragically gone the George Lucas route. By that I'm referring to $195 000 000 fairy tale flop entitled Jack the Giant Slayer, which - if I'm gonna be mathematical about it - equals to thirty The Usual Suspects. And for what, I ask? A nimiety of CGI that immediately dissolved into the white noise of blandville? Oh yeah, that's money well spent. And such a sad touch of irony.

But enough number-crunching for a while. Exciting from the get-go, this neo-noir mystery thriller has rightfully earned its diploma as one of the all-time greats. Boasting a superlative cast, it weaves the highly intricate tale of five peculiar criminals - all of different aptitudes, personalities and walks of life - and how they're tied to a central incident in film, involving a massacre aboard a cargo ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles. Implicated in this is also Keyser Söze, an enigmatic crime lord and character of such fame and legend that he would transcend the film per se and become a pop culture phenomenon of his own. Not bad for a guy who - spoiler alert - doesn't exist.

Leaving it naked at that description, however, would be to simplify the narrative. Plot threads are numerous and each character, big or small, has his little story to tell. In the main though, it can be divided into two separate blocks: one, which takes place in the present, fixed on the interrogation of Roger "Verbal" Kint, a crippled con man played by an exceptionally subtle Kevin Spacey. A role which would also land him his very first Oscar.

Divulged to us by Verbal through narration and sizable flashbacks, the other story block accounts for the series of events that would ultimately lead up to the incident on the boat. Deals, heists, humorous interplay between the five outlaws - some levity at first, but then progressively darker and complex. A caper requiring great focus, and like so rewards the attentive viewer.

I've always loved films that loom large as smarter than yourself: how it makes you ponder, concentrate, put all your brain cells to work. Cerebral and labyrinthian, but not too far over your head. The screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie is exactly that, and the Academy did the respectable thing, handing him an Oscar for his astonishing wordsmanship.

Praised be also the thespians for carrying out their lines with such verve. Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollack, Pete Postlethwaite and Benicio Del Toro. And yes, even Stephen Baldwin, star of such beloved classics as Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, is framed within the mugshot of a first-rate screen performer in this film. The power of an outstanding script I suppose, and a director who knows his craft, bringing out the best in all his players.

Close to perfection on all accounts - the editing, the cinematography, the rousing music score by John Ottman - it all runs like clockwork. My one and only complaint is that the pacing, between missions, is a little slow and rough around the edges at times. But whenever the action kicks in - whether it be abstract, verbal or in the language of bullets - you can be sure that it does so with world-class suspense.

Edgy and thoroughly awesome; a film for true film buffs, who rate intellect above the needlessly bombastic and akin to Se7en, The Sixth Sense and other masterworks of the 90's, are never-not-welcoming to a great final twist.

"Who is Keyser Söze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Söze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that, poof. He's gone."

Mike S

Super Reviewer


Part caper film, part character goof off (ala Ocean's Eleven), part ghost story, I simply enjoy watching this again and again. The cast makes the rest of the cast look good.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

"I don't know exactly what has taken me so long to see this, but I'm glad I finally did. Thankfully it's streaming on Netflix or it might have been even longer.
The movie is really good with a somewhat great cast. I think if you've seen the movie, or maybe just by looking at the cast, you can see who those 'somewhat' actors are. But the true star of the show is my long time favorite, Kevin Spacey. He makes every role look easy.
The film has a great script. It's smart. The beginning your to believe it's the good vs. evil, then by the end it gets all twisted with a great spin. I had it figured out, because unfortunately, with films today it's hard to not see a twist coming. I'm sure when the film was made and seen, the twist had a much bigger affect on the audience. A great film. I will see it again."


Super Reviewer

The Usual Suspects Quotes

I sucked in Slap Shot 2 and I'm even worse in this movie.
– Submitted by Jesse K (18 months ago)
Roger "Verbal" Kint:
Are you trying to get a rise out of me, Agent Kujan?
– Submitted by Johnny W (23 months ago)
Dave Kujan:
You're in the getting-fucked-by-us business.
– Submitted by Gregoire B (24 months ago)
Dean Keaton:
Do your friend a favor. Tell him to keep quiet.
– Submitted by Gregoire B (24 months ago)
Roger "Verbal" Kint:
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.
– Submitted by Husam A (24 months ago)
Roger "Verbal" Kint:
How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?
– Submitted by Mike B (2 years ago)

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