Ok, I’m not going to waste any time with this one. If you haven’t seen this movie, DO NOT READ FURTHER!
This is one of my absolute favourite movies, one of the best criminal thrillers ever made, and with one of the greatest twists in cinema history. If you haven’t seen this movie or have had it spoiled for you before, you owe it to yourself to watch it before reading this, as I will be discussing said twist.
With that out of the way, and hopefully with many of my readers frantically following my suggestion and watching the movie, I’ll get on with the issue I want to discuss.
That issue being about the ending of the movie, and the true identity of Keyser Söze.
If you don’t know who Keyser Söze is, I will not enlighten you.
Because if you don’t know who Keyser Söze is, it means you haven’t watched the movie, which means you should not be reading this!
Anyway, at the end of the movie, we find that Keyser Söze is the real identity of Verbal Kint, played by Kevin Spacey. This of course means that nothing in the movie can be completely trusted, seeing as most of it is narrated by Verbal, the epitome of an unreliable witness.
And the movie ends with Verbal retrieving his belongings, leaving the police station and limping off… only for him to eventually gain a normal gait, flexing his until-now seized up hand, and getting into a car. As Verbal himself so neatly put it:
And just like that… He’s gone.
Now, like I said, this twist changes the entire movie and how we view it, and displays the ruthlessness and cunning of Keyser Söze, the criminal mastermind likened by many to the Devil Himself.
There is one pretty big issue with this. Namely that during the interrogation, a survivor of the boat explosion is being interviewed by the police about the events.
And among his testimonials, he gives a witness description of the killer, which is then faxed to Kujon.
So why is this a problem? Because the whole reason Keyser set up the attack on the ship was to eliminate the one man who could positively identify him. The one man who knew what he looked like.
And in the process, he not only left one survivor capable of positively identifying him, not only did he leave a POLICE OFFICER capable of positively identifying him, but there’s also a sketch of him being faxed around town, and his mugshot is likely to soon grace the wall of every police billboard, wanted list and interpol office on earth.
All of this just means that perhaps Keyser Söze is not very clever after all, because even more people now know what he looks like, effectively making his whole plan not only pointless, but self-defeating.
And “self-defeating” is not something you want to be renowned for as a criminal mastermind.
Despite director Bryan Singer pretty much coming out and stating that Verbal and Söze are one and the same, I have my own headcanon regarding The Usual Suspects . See, the plot hole I just outlined slightly ruins the movie for me. And like I said, this is one of my favourite movies. I don’t want it ruined.
Because of that, my personal headcanon is that Verbal Kint isn’t Keyser Söze.
Now you might be wondering who Keyser Söze really was. To which my answer is simply:
I don’t know.
See, if we are to believe that Keyser Söze is such a mastermind, and is so anxious about maintaining his secrecy, he would not be stupid enough to make a mistake like this. To quote Verbal again:
You think a guy like that comes this close to getting caught and sticks his head out?
The answer, of course, is No. You don’t become the bogeyman of crime by gloating and showing off. Or making up lies that are discovered less than 3 minutes after you leave.
So my idea is that Kint just worked for Söze as a hitman, tasked to kill the only man who could identify him. After that, he’d protect Verbal from the law, and then retrieve him. More than likely, when he was picked up by “Kobayashi”, he was taken to a secluded place and got a bullet in the head, since he’s now a threat to Keyser Söze’s anonymity.
Even the double tap to the head with the gun is too specific a calling card for someone concerned with secrecy, which I would take to mean it’s Verbals calling card, not Keysers.
The one snag with all of this is possibly that Arturro Marquez, the aforemention identifier, reacts with shock and horror, swearing to “Keyser” that he told them nothing, before being shot.
Which on the one hand is a fair concern. However, I don’t believe this necesarilly disproves the idea, partly because Arturro doesn’t refer to his killer as Keyser, and partly because shock, horror and begging is a pretty reasonable reaction to anyone coming to kill you.
I’d also argue that if he could identify Keyser Söze, he may well know what his closest associates look like. For example, a personal assassin.
But like I said, this is all personal headcanon to maintain my enjoyment of the movie. And even without it, the movie remains very good, and the plothole only bothers nitpicky pedantic people like myself.
That’s about it when it comes to The Usual Suspects, really.
With any luck, I may have enticed people to watch the movie in preparation for this article. On the other, I may have inadvertently spoiled the ending for some people who didn’t want to wait.
In which case, you were warned and have only yourself to blame.