A cargo ship explodes in San Pedro harbour, killing 27 and leaving one survivor and one witness, the nervy Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), who is interrogated by customs agent Chazz Palminteri. The story told by Verbal is an intriguing and beguiling labyrinth of a story, centred on five criminals (himself, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, Stephen Baldwin and Benicio Del Toro) who planned a job on an illicit police operation. A mysterious criminal mastermind, Keyzer Soze, is all that links the men. But who is he? And can Verbal be trusted?
Bryan Singer’s second movie is one of the decade’s key films, an immensely seductive game whose inexorable progress keeps the viewer bemused but enthralled right up until the final revelation. Its take on machismo, on the dread of getting in beyond your understanding and on the interaction of competing scams is absolutely under Singer’s control but he is working from a terrific Academy Award-winning screenplay. In particular, it is a subtle and thoughtful disquisition on the very nature of storytelling.
Recalling the feel of classic Hammet and Chandler, the script by Christopher McQuarrie crackles into one of the most spellbinding films of recent years under Singer’s direction. The Sunday Times said, ‘What is most rewarding is not the method acting or directorial flair but its vivid, audacious, relentless intelligence,’ while Variety called it ‘An ironic, bang-up thriller about the wages of crime. A terrific cast of exciting actors socks over this absorbing complicated yarn.’
USA / 106 minutes / 1995
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Kevin Spacey as Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint
Gabriel Byrne as Dean Keaton
Stephen Baldwin as Michael McManus
Chazz Palminteri as US Customs Agent Dave Kujan
Kevin Pollak as Todd Hockney
Pete Postlethwaite as Kobayashi
Suzy Amis as Edie Finneran
Giancarlo Esposito as FBI Agent Jack Baer
Benicio del Toro as Fred Fenster
Dan Hedaya as Sgt. Jeffrey “Jeff” Rabin
Paul Bartel as Smuggler
Carl Bressler as Saul Berg
Christine Estabrook as Dr. Plummer
Clark Gregg as Dr. Walters
Morgan Hunter as Arkosh Kovash
Louis Lombardi as Agent Strausz
Frank Medrano as Agent Rizzi
Ron Gilbert as Daniel “Dan” Metzheiser
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