Monday, October 06, 2014

The Usual Suspects

The crew has tentatively agreed on another October of watching scary films. Which on Thursday translated to watching Devil, but then they decided to watched The Usual Suspects afterward. That probably wasn't meant to be part of the "watch scary movies", so much as one person just felt like watching it. I hadn't ever seen it, but somehow, I knew the deal with the reveal of Keyzer Soze at the end, and I think that may have ruined the film for me.

If you haven't seen the film, and don't want that ending spoiled, you should not read this until you have watched the film. Or keep reading, your call.

Wait another moment or so. . .

. . .

OK, Burble (Kevin Spacey) is actually Soze, right? Telling this whole story of how he and the other four crooks got used by this Soze to ultimately eliminate a man who could identify him. He's telling it to a Customs official, a guy who knew one of the other crooks, Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), and is convinced that guy is Soze. And Burble strings him along, plays a dopey criminal with cerebral palsy (I think) who insists Keeton was his friend and really wanted out of the life.Which only invites sneers from the Customs guy. Everything Burble says just reenforces the guy's conviction that Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) was the mastermind, and the rest of them, especially Burble, were pawns. Which is exactly what he's supposed to think.

The thing was, knowing going in that Burble is actually the infamous Soze meant I kept seeing all the little clues peppered through. The fact we open on Soze killing Keaton with a gun held in his left hand, the focus on his cool, easy stride, which then naturally contrasts from Burble, who has a largely useless left arm and walks with a limp. After awhile, it feels overdone. Which I'm sure was part of the point. Burble/Soze doesn't think much of the Customs guy (and clearly thinks pretty highly of his own intelligence), so he plays it up in his retelling, beating that drum steadily into his listener's brain. "I'm just a schmuck with a weakened left side. I'm terrified, and I think there are things like loyalty and friendship in this line of work. Underestimate me!"

It's pretty impressive, though there were times I thought Soze veered into that annoying horror movie cliche of the omniscient villain. It seemed as though he was able to manipulate things, anticipate their responses too well. I guess Fenster deciding to walk and needing to be eliminated could be the thing that went against his plan, but the way he's played up, I'm not sure we aren't supposed to believe Burble/Soze knew all along one guy who rebel and be killed, which would mean one fewer guy for him to eliminate later.

It was still a good movie, most of the performances were solid. The five suspects were generally believable. Confident in themselves, generally motivated by greed they try to disguise as something else (love, friendship, ego). I do wonder though, if Fenster and McManus had stolen more money together than one of the other guys could count, why they still needed to be pulling jobs. How do you spend that much money? I know, exaggeration, but it was the thought that went through my head. I'm sure the film works better if you don't know the reveal going in. Or maybe I should have just gone to bed, instead of waiting up to see the way it actually played out. Impatience coloring my judgement and all.

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