Case Number 21489: Small Claims Court


MGM // 1995 // 106 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // June 6th, 2011

The Charge

How do you turn one of the classic films from the 1990s into a pointless piece of garbage? Read on to find out.

The Case

Let me cut to the chase here for those of you who want to know what this Blu-ray disc is all about. It's The Usual Suspects on Blu-ray and yes it looks and sounds great. But guess what, it looked and sounded great back in 2007 when MGM tossed it into stores with only the theatrical trailer as an extra.

So here we get the big upgrade. In addition to the film you now theatrical trailer. Yeah, that's it.

"Wait!" I hear the marketing guys at Fox yelling, "You also get this nifty case that doubles as a cool book!" OK, I see that. Lets flip through it for a minute. Lots and lots of stills from the movie. Oh, a few behind the scenes photos. Hey look, there's a couple of essays and actor filmographies. You're paying 15 extra dollars for stuff that could have been put on the Blu-ray because we all know there's more than enough room on there. The movie's only 106 minutes long.

Compare this sorry excuse for a release to the standard def disc that Chief Justice Mike Jackson reviewed back in 2002 and it's enough to make you cry. Fox had a chance to really make this a special release along with including the book, instead they charge you more for something that is frankly an insult. My recommendation, save your cash and pick up the regular Blu-ray if you have to see this in hi-def. If not, the 2002 edition has a ton of great extras and a great film. Can't go wrong there.

OK, my rant about this release is over. I'll chime in on my thoughts on the film. In so many ways The Usual Suspects is your basic crime thriller. You've got Kujan (Chazz Palminteri, Hurlyburly), the hard case government agent interrogating the only survivor of a explosive battle between criminals. That survivor is the limping, wimpy Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey, American Beauty). Kint tells the story of how Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment) and a motley group of shady characters combined forces to pull off a heist. Things spin out of control when they are confronted by the mysterious Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite, The Town), who claims the men are in debt to the fearsome criminal mastermind Keyser Soze.

As the story unfolds we follow these tough guys as they struggle against the web of power and influence that Soze has woven around them all. Kujan begins to get outside information that pokes some holes in Verbal's story. What is the truth behind the lies? And who is Keyser Soze?

What makes this movie so engaging and entertaining is the combination of a well executed script and some top notch acting. And no, the twist ending doesn't make the movie. Look at the way the film is constructed, the way the lines are delivered and the way the camera plays a key role in showing and not showing pieces of the narrative. Director Bryan Singer executed a great amount of control. He not only builds the story, but also keeps the audience engaged and off balance. Is it a deliberate gambit? Sure, but it all comes down to one of the key themes of the film -- truth is in the eye of the beholder.

Recently I've run into a bit of a backlash against the film, calling it a cheap trick, a movie that is mean spirited and going out of its way to make the audience look stupid. The narrative structure makes the story a tricky thing to pin down and for some people it all translates into a waste of time.

Seriously? To quote William Shatner -- get a life. If you hate The Usual Suspects because of the twist ending, then I bet you hate The Twilight Zone too, and if thats the case, you're dead to me. The movie isn't mean and nasty and mocking you. So stop crying in the corner because you were tricked. And don't go around telling everyone that you figured it out within five minutes. Because you're missing the point of the movie.

If these naysayers are so blind as to ignore all the elements and the execution because they feel stupid as the credits roll, well then that's their malfunction. The rest of us can enjoy the film. Honestly this movie was the perfect storm, all the elements striking and working together at the right time to make one hell of a movie. When it comes to modern crime thrillers, it's hard to top The Usual Suspects.

So that's why I'm so disappointed with this idiotic Blu-ray DigiBook.

The Verdict

Fox is guilty of making me hate this release.

Review content copyright © 2011 Roman Martel; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 63

Perp Profile
Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

* English (SDH)
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Trailer
* Booklet

* IMDb