Plot: What’s it about?
After an explosion on the waterfront docks, eye witness Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey) prepares to leave after giving his report, but his exit won’t be that soon. Although Kint has told the police what he knows, an officer named Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) wishes to speak with him and extract additional information. Kujan knows that Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) was involved in the explosion and while Kint claims he was killed, Kujan has his doubts. Keaton was a former police officer himself, before he turned to crime and was booted off the force. Then he was assumed dead after an explosion, but as fate has it, he was still alive after all, but Keaton stated he was out of crime and just wanted to start over. So now it looks as if Keaton is dead again, but Kujan is determined to know the truth this time, no matter what it takes. So he sits down with Kint and asks to hear the entire story, how Verbal met Keaton, what kind of operations they were involved in, and every last detail he is able to recollect. So Kint relays the tale of a fateful night when five criminals met in a most unusual lineup, become partners in several criminal endeavors, and ended up at the service of one Keyser Soze…
An intense thriller loaded with great performances, superb writing, and one hell of an ending, The Usual Suspects is one of the genre’s finest modern efforts. The film has a stacked deck of workers, but the star power remains in order here, as the actors mesh together instead of jockeying for position, which happens a lot in star studded pictures. I know the talent here is not all A list, but the cast is filled with well known performers and to see them all work together so well, it just elevates the film a few notches. As great as the cast is however, you have to give some credit to writer Christopher McQuarrie for his excellent material and director Bryan Singer for weaving it all together so well. The Usual Suspects grabs you by the throat from the start and refuses to release you until the last second, which is what a thriller of this kind should do, I think. I also like how this movie never relies on cheap thrills or endless red herrings, it lays out a complex, well planned storyline and lets it unfold, while we’re glued to the screen. In other words, this is a great movie and while this bare bones edition suggests a re-release will surface down the road, fans of the movie will appreciate the improved visual transfer.
This role earned him an Oscar and I think he more than deserved it, as Kevin Spacey anchors this film and puts on one hell of a show. This is very much an ensemble piece, but Spacey is the central focus of the story, so a lot rides on his performance. As per usual, he delivers on all counts and makes the material shine, so The Usual Suspects works. If he hadn’t been so dead on, I think the film would have lost much of its impact, since Spacey serves as a narrator of sorts, in addition to his normal screen chores. But then again, the part was written with him in mind and he never stumbles even for a second, so perhaps there was never any doubt with this one. Other films with Spacey include American Beauty, Swimming with Sharks, The Negotiator, Outbreak, L.A. Confidential, and Pay it Forward. The cast also includes Gabriel Byrne (End of Days, Miller’s Crossing), Stephen Baldwin (Zebra Lounge, Threesome), Benicio Del Toro (Traffic, Excess Baggage), and Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale, Analyze This).
Video: How does it look?
You might think that a shiny new cover would indicate that this disc would be different than the previous Blu-ray offering. You would be mistaken. While “The Usual Suspects” is a welcome improvement over the standard release, but this isn’t an elite level Blu-ray treatment. The image shows a lot more fine detail here, especially in close ups, so the visuals seem more refined here. The added depth isn’t a revelation, but this is clearly a much sharper, more defined presentation than that of the standard DVD. I found colors to be bright and natural, with no concerns and contrast remains on the mark at all times. I wouldn’t call this an eye opening transfer, but as I said, if you’re familiar with the movie, you will notice a marked improvement.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here is the same mix that was present on the previous Blu-ray as well. That said, the included DTS HD soundtrack is still impressive. In the few instances where power is needed, the surrounds kick up a few notches and deliver. So the explosions and gunshots do add some presence and in this case, that can enhance the experience more than a little. The bulk of the film is more about dialogue and low key audio, but it still sounds terrific. The little touches in the background can bring immersion to even a simple conversation, so there is never a dull moment here. The musical score also comes through well, which is excellent news since the music here is remarkable. As far as dialogue, I have no complaints, vocals were clear and error free throughout. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Despite the sticker on the front saying that this “Limited Edition” contains exclusive production stills, it’s essentially the same movie previously released on Blu-ray with some newer, cooler packaging and some production stills. The video and audio are the same and the same theatrical trailer is included