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Parents' Guide to

The Usual Suspects

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Profane, violent crime thriller has novel twists.

Movie R 1995 106 minutes
The Usual Suspects Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 13+

The twist makes the movie

There are a few well done scenes here and there, but this is mostly a very dull and uninteresting film that no one would remember or hold in a high regard if it didn’t have that twist at the end.
age 13+

Loved it!!

Usual Suspects is my favorite movie by a long shot, and has been since the moment I first sat down to watch it. True, there's a certain amound of drugs and violence, but once you watch the movie you realize [SPOILER] how little of it actually happened in the plot versus how much Verbal Kint made up on the spot. Keyser Soze may have never been in Turkey, he may have never even had a wife to be raped, he might not have ever been involved in narcotics, and the five criminals may have never even gone to california and killed those people in the dope deal. By the end of the movie you know so much less than you think you do about the plot. So technically, there were never any narcotics, rape, murder, mafia-like cults... it was just one guy making up stories to tell the police. Sure that's a bad message for kids, encouraging dishonesty, but the movie itself has so many subtle details that it can only help your kids' mental maturity by trying to figure out just what is real and what isn't. It inspired my daughter to do her own independant research about the basis of the movie! She found out that "Keyser Soze" is Turkish for "King Blabbermouth" which is oddly like Verbal Kint, eh? I've never seen my daughter get so passionate about anything, and any movie that can bring out such fervid excitement in a 13-year-old is great by me.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (36 ):

This is a transfixing, convoluted film noir thriller that forces you to think through events. Though it's a story without any "good" guys, in most any sense (one female character, who seems to represent possible redemption, is very marginal and gets coldly killed off-screen), you'll likely want to watch it a second time to see where the filmmakers and their narrative fooled you. That said, it does paint a picture of a pretty violent world, and the degree to which there's any philosophy or morality at work comes from Verbal Klint, who observes that Keyser Soze succeeds because he's willing to go farther and be meaner than other gangsters, and that, moreover, he's like the devil, "whose greatest trick was convincing the world that he didn't exist."

The mythic Soze works his ruthless will through unwitting dupes and hirelings, always staying in the background -- not unlike Voldemort from the Harry Potter tales. Unlike Potter, though, profanity is so thick here you'd swear the ship blows up at the start because of the heavy concentration of f-bombs.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: August 16, 1995
  • On DVD or streaming: April 2, 2002
  • Cast: Benicio Del Toro , Gabriel Byrne , Stephen Baldwin
  • Director: Bryan Singer
  • Inclusion Information: Bisexual directors, Latino actors
  • Studio: MGM/UA
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Run time: 106 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: violence and a substantial amount of strong language
  • Last updated: November 5, 2023

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