Ever since this convoluted thriller dazzled audiences and critics in 1995 and won an Oscar for Christopher McQuarrie’s twisting screenplay, The Usual Suspects has continued to divide movie lovers into opposite camps. While a lot of people take great pleasure from the movie’s now-famous central mystery (namely, “Who is Keyser Söze?”), others aren’t so easily impressed by a movie that’s too enamored of its own cleverness to make much sense. After all, what are we to make of a final scene that renders the entire movie obsolete? Half the fun of The Usual Suspects is the debate it provokes and the sheer pleasure of watching its dynamic cast in action, led (or should we say, misled) by Oscar winner Kevin Spacey as the club-footed con man who recounts the saga of enigmatic Hungarian mobster Keyser Söze. Spacey’s in a band of thieves that includes Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak, and Benicio Del Toro, all gathered in a plot to steal a large shipment of cocaine. The story is told in flashback as a twisted plot being described by Spacey’s character to an investigating detective (Chazz Palmintieri), and The Usual Suspects is enjoyable for the way it keeps the viewer guessing right up to its surprise ending. Whether that ending will enhance or extinguish the pleasure is up to each viewer to decide. Even if it ultimately makes little or no sense at all, this is a funny and fiendish thriller, guaranteed to entertain even its vocal detractors.

Studio: MGM
Year: 1995
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Run time: 106 minutes
Rating: R

Audio: DTS HD MA lossless 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Disc Spec: 1 BD
Region: 1

Before I offer any analysis of “The Usual Suspects”, I would first like to say that (as is well know by now) the film has perhaps the most mind-blowing ending in the history of American Cinema. I have long been a fan of movies with endings that are shockers (The Sixth Sense and The Others stand out as favorites), but this movie took it to an entirely new level.

I won’t give away the ending here, but I will say that this film follows a narrative pattern such that guessing the “big reveal” is difficult, as information is revealed in flashbacks, thus getting more complex as the story continues. However, many other Amazon reviewers have said that, after repeated viewings (I have only seen the film once), it IS possible to somewhat predict what is going to happen.

I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to watch this movie, but I knew I was not a fan of gangster/crime films, so I was a bit leery. However, the story is so expertly crafted that one (myself included!) completely forgets that the main characters are criminals and instead focuses on the plot twists and turns.

So, I would highly recommend this film to two categories of viewers: First, those of you like me who have never seen this classic film until “now” and are wondering what all the buzz is about, you won’t be disappointed. Second, those of you who love surprise endings (even if you aren’t too keep on cop/police dramas) will obsess over this film for weeks or months after viewing!.
Movie Quality: 10/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-2 with a 2:40:1 aspect ratio. ‘The Usual Suspects’ digibook is the same exact transfer as the Blu-ray released in 2007. While the picture quality in 2007 was very good for this film, I feel like a proper restoration to MPEG-4 would have been great. Do not take this the wrong way as the film still looks pretty good, but a new transfer would have made this an even better re-release. This is the best the film has looked for home video with the multitutde DVD releases over the years. Color management is well done and very vivid looking. I found black levels to be deep. The print is rather sharp with minimal spots of grain, which surprises me that the grain was cleaned up a bit here which throws off the film print a little. The one area lacking in the film is depth which would have done wonders for the look of the print.
Print Quality: 8/10

The audio is presented in a DTS-HD MA l0ssless 5.1 mix. This is rather disappointing that the audio mix does not take advantage of the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix like you would expect. The fantastic score alone would have taken advantage of the soundfield better. There are many action sequences that lack punch and depth making this above average. Dialogue is clean and clear as well placed through the center channel. In 2011, there is no real excuse that this film being re-released 4.5 years later doesn’t get the proper treatment.
Print Quality: 7/10

Special Features

  • Trailers

Special Features: 1/10

Final Thoughts

Spacey has concocted a nice little mystery. It flows nicely and keeps one’s interest without overtaxing one’s mental abilities. It is convoluted, and has a sort of Hitchcock style surprise ending. I am disappointed that the film did not receive an updated video and audio presentation, but if you are a collector than you won’t want to miss this digibook presentation.
Overall Rating: 7/10