Monday, June 17, 2013

Who is Keyser Soze?

"McManus came to us with the job, Fenster got the vans, Hockney supplied the hardware, I came through with how to do it so no one got killed, but Keaton... Keaton put on the finishing touch. A little 'fuck you' from the five of us to the NYPD."

WARNING: If you haven't yet seen this classic, you might want to do so before reading this.

A couple of years ago while I was watching a movie, I figured out that a good thriller doesn't necessarily need to have mind-boggling camera effects or dynamic chase and shooting scenes. It takes one Kevin Spacey to constantly play with your mind and make you focus hard to follow what's going on. Besides him, just put in a couple of cons to raise the doubts and of course, also an adamant cop who thinks that no one can outsmart him. With having such characters mixed in a superbly mysterious plot the end result is The Usual Suspects (1995).

"What the cops never figured out, and what I know now, was that these men
would never break, never lie down, never bend over for anybody. Anybody."

" They realized that to be in power, you didn't need guns or money or even numbers. You just needed the will to do what the other guy wouldn't." 
This movie is structured in a flashback as a huge explosion burns down a ship in a San Pedro, CA harbour leaving 27 dead and 1 badly burnt. Some time before this incident five criminals are picked up in a police line-up following a raid on a truck carrying arms. Neither of them seems to be intimidated at all by the police and this interrogation comes across as something fairly routine for them. Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollak), Fred Fenster (Benicio Del Toro) and Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey) do nothing but have fun while being grilled by the police. Verbal definitely looks like weakest of them all with his disability and soft character. After being let off they decide to get together and give it back to the police for taking them in without proof. Keaton who was a former corrupt policeman is trying his best to get clean but without much success as he agrees to join the other four. Meanwhile special agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) is keen on grilling Verbal after he is given immunity for becoming a witness at court for the ship incident as he was present there when it happened. When it comes to execution of the role, Spacey makes sure that the mystery builds with every moment and it's nothing but a guessing game till the end. The group of five are given a dangerous task, without a choice, of destroying cocaine hidden in a ship in San Pedro harbour. They are approached by Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite) who is an attorney for an underworld terror named Keyser Soze. The plot unfolds as Verbal narrates his story while answering Kujan's questions. Kujan wants to hear what he believes in and digs deep into Verbal's side of the story. This entire dialogue between them till the end needs a lot of focus, even the smallest of detail plays a big part in the plot. 

"It was Keyser Soze, Agent Kujan. I mean the Devil himself.
How do you shoot the Devil in the back? What if you miss?"
So, as it happens the five criminals who were initially lined up under suspicion end up working together and are responsible for blowing up the ship. It wasn't a coincidence that they were held together initially as it turns out that each one of them had wronged Keyser Soze at one point in time. That's why they had no option but to carry out his task. Kobayashi tempted them with $91 million which they could keep after the finishing the job. With Verbal putting things in order through innocent narration of events, there is a jaw dropping twist in the end. This is one of the best mystery thrillers of all time and it keeps you on the edge right till the finish. Spacey got a very well deserved oscar for his brilliant performance. Don't believe in what is said but be careful not to believe in what is said. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he does not exist. 


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