Yesterday I watched The Usual Suspects for the very first time in full. I had previously attempted to see it but switched off after about 20 minutes or so as I couldn't find anything remotely interesting in it. After hearing about the production time and time again over the last couple of years I finally decided to give the movie yet another try to see what this is all about, but – lo and behold – I still don't get it.
Here are some of the points that left me scratching my head. (Though no names will be given, the way how this is discussed will reveal to any but the most braindead who I am talking about. So if you're one of the two people interested in seeing this who hasn't watched it yet, read no further.)
- Kayzer Soze. The big elephant in the room. What's the deal with him? After all I heard I thought he'd be a quasi-demonic presence throughout the entire picture. The yardstick I would measure this against for me is The Third Man where Harry Lime doesn't even appear until way into the second half, yet his evil presence permeates every minute of the movie from the very start on. Here? Apart from one or two utterances Kayzer Soze doesn't even feature prominently at all until halfway through the film. And even then I never really got anything like a Third Man feel for the character.
- Who is Kayzer Soze? Well, this hardly was a mystery at all given that from the start we only really had one surviving member of the group. I kept on telling myself that surely this is way too easy and some major surprise may be in store. But, nay, it was indeed the only survivor. Bit of an anti-climax that one, methinks.
- Chazz Palminteri's character at the end discovers from a look at his notice board that he was fed a whole bunch of lies. It appears that events and characters were invented by looking at coffee cups, mug shots etc. Yet, we as viewers have seen these events taking place in flashbacks! Now there is a well established movie making 101 rule that says that flashbacks need to always tell the truth. They may sometimes show one person's interpretation of the truth (e.g. Kurosawa's Rashomon) but even then we can accept that these were events how the characters saw them. Making up flashback scenes that never happened that way is not clever. At all. It is a major audience cheat and totally disingenious. And completely unworthy of a critically acclaimed picture such as this one. The remake of My Bloody Valentine was mauled over a similar plot device that wasn't anywhere as intrusive as what's in store for this production.
- The sting. Or should I say stings? If this was meant to be anything like a proper heist movie, then it failed big time. Cause the big movie stings always involve intricate planning and a few surprises up the sleeve. Here we don't have one sting but a series of them, none of them very intricate as all that was required was show up and point a gun, get the loot and be gone.
- The characters weren't exactly very involving. Can I quote a single line of dialogue a day after seeing the film? Nope. Not a one.
So....... is The Usual Suspects one of the most overrated films of all time?