Told through a creative use of flashback sequences, The Usual Suspects tells the story of five criminals: Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Fenster (Benicio del Toro), Hockney (Kevin Pollak) and Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), as their simple score to embarrass the New York police department slowly entwines them in a setup that will have them pull a siege (albeit deadly) single-handedly against a boat filled with $91 million in cocaine.
But that's only the beginning...
We begin while the siege is in its final stages. A man, who we later find out to be Dean Keaton, legs broken, lies battered on the deck. Gasoline pools around him. He lights a cigarette, and throws the matches into the stream. But before it can reach the barrels piled throughout the boat, the flame is extinguished by another stream of warm liquid: urine.
And Keyser Soze walks to Keaton. They converse like old friends briefly, before Soze shoots Keaton in the head. He starts the gas burning once more, and disapears into the plume of fire.
Then we pick it up the next morning, as the one surviving main character (suspect), Verbal (the weakest of the con men, he has a palsied hand, a turned in foot, and a severe limp) tells the story to the feds, represented by one Agent David Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) of the Customs Beaureau. They sit in the messy office of Jeffrey Rabin, a detective in San Pedro.
The story is told through his eyes.
Slowly the mystery is unravelled between Kint and Kujan, while another mystery plays out in a hospital bed, where a burnt, dying, pathetic survivor of the siege, a Hungarian who can positively identify Soze, describes the fabled butcher to a composite artist.
The interrogation lasts hours, until finally Verbal is released, and Kujan has gotten all of the information he requires.
The story is recounted of Kobayashi, the lawyer who works for Soze who dove them into the scheme; of Redfoot, the fence in LA who led them to Kobayashi; and some stories that Verbal adds as footnotes, like his days in Guatemala, or in Skokie, Il. in a barbershop quartet.
But Verbal has been broken, all of his friends are dead, he has nowhere to go, and Soze will probably whisk him into darkness as soon as he leaves the PD. He walks out, convinced finally that all cops are pigs.
As Verbal leaves, the composite is faxed to Kujan, which corroborates the clues Verbal left behind.
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Rated R for Language and Violence.
Last Updated: October 20th, 2000