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Usual SuspectsThe Usual Suspects on DVD

The Usual Suspects is one of those rare modern movies that is destined to become a classic.

Made for a very small budget, the film was a major success when it was released, earning critical, commercial, and even Oscar acclaim. It seemed as if everyone who saw the film, loved it.

Fortunately, it's also one of those rare films that deserves every bit of acclaim it got. It's smart, funny, brilliantly directed, has a great ensemble cast, and has one of the best endings I've ever seen.

Basically the movie is a series of flashbacks as told by Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey). He's being interrogated by Kujan (Chazz Palminteri), who wants to know the truth about what happened on "the boat," and wants to make sure Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) is dead.

Verbal tells of how they were all in a line-up, and then they decided to make some money together. They got mixed up in a job that went bad, and ended up working for Keyser Soze, the baddest of the bad.

To tell any more of the plot, would be to give something away (which I've probably already done). It all leads up to a great twist at the end, one to which that of The Sixth Sense doesn't compare (and that was a great twist, too).

The Usual Suspects was the second collaboration between chums Christopher McQuarrie and Bryan Singer. The latter you probably know as the director of X-Men. Singer throws a bunch of clues at you throughout the film, but unless you've seen it before, it's hard to catch them. That makes it all the better.

The cast, which includes Spacey, Byrne, Palminteri, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite and Benicio del Toro, is all excellent. Even though these are bad guys, you can't help but root for them.

The Usual Suspects is a movie you have to watch at least twice. Once to be bewildered, and again to catch all the things you missed. This is the kind of movie everyone should watch, if for no other reason than because it's a classic…or at least, it will be.

The original DVD release of the movie was a bare-bones title, one of the early ones MGM released. Now, in a spectacular new special edition, it's finally getting the treatment it deserves.

The picture and sound quality are both excellent, especially considering the film is now seven years old. The picture (2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen) does look a little fuzzy at times, but I have a feeling that has to do with the original print. It was a fairly low-budget film, and it appears that perhaps the producers couldn't afford the kind of high-tech equipment most movies these days have the luxury of using. But for the most part, the video quality of this DVD is very good.

The audio, which features a nice 5.1 Dolby Digital track, could use a bit of work, but is overall pretty good. There are some explosions, gunshots, and other sound effects that put the surrounds to good use, but the rear channels are otherwise ignored.

The real treat of this special edition is the extras. First up is an hour long documentary split into two separate featurettes. The first is "Pursuing the Suspects," which talks about the casting of the film, and the second is "Doing Time With the Suspects," which has a little more behind-the-scenes stuff. They feature new interviews with many of the key players, and are very well done.

Next up is another featurette, "Keyser Soze: Lie or Legend." It's another great featurette about, basically, the only character in the movie you never really see.

There are some deleted scenes with introductions by John Ottman (editor/composer), the original "Heisting Cannes with The Usual Suspects" featurette, a gag reel with Bryan Singer introduction, easter eggs, and the trailer.

Finally, there are two audio commentaries. The first is by Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie, and is very good. The two are old friends, and it's interesting to hear what they have to say. The second is by John Ottman, and is a lot more technical.

This is a great disc, and it fits well for such a great movie.

The Usual Suspects, from MGM Home Entertainment
106 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16X9 enhanced, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Starring Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite, Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro
Produced by Bryan Singer and Michael McDonnell
Written by Christopher McQuarrie, Directed by Bryan Singer




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Updated May 13, 2006