The Usual Suspects is a most unusual movie, and in this case, that is a good thing. The Usual Suspects keeps you interested throughout its entirety by making you think and trying to figure out what will happen next. If only today’s movies did the same thing!! As this has been one of my favorite movies of all time, the excitement I felt when I received this in the mail today could only be compared to a young child on Christmas morning.
A boat, thought to have $91 million in cocaine on board, is docked at a pier in San Pedro, near Los Angeles. Within seconds a thunderous explosion takes place. Soon after twenty-seven dead bodies are found at the scene. Miraculously, there are two survivors: a Hungarian gangster who clings to life in a local hospital and Roger “Verbal” Kint, a crippled con man from New York. As U.S. Customs Special Agent David Kujan conducts his grueling inquisition, Kint weaves a tale that begins six weeks earlier, at a police lock-up in New York. Five felons, accused of hijacking a truckload of gun parts in Queens, are brought in for a lineup. They are suspects. Strangers. With one thing in common: Keyser Soze — a criminal so feared and fabled. While an FBI sketch artist struggles to complete his rendering of Soze before the witness dies, Verbal Kint sits in the District Attorney’s office, taking Kujan through the steps that led him there. The questioning is extensive. Agent Kujan is relentless and questions Kint for hours. In the end the surprise of all surprises takes place.
This film has great acting performances by both Kevin Spacey (Roger Kint), Gabriel Byrne (Dean Keaton) and Chazz Palminteri (Agent Dave Kujan). The cast of the entire films seems to have an overall solid chemistry. This is evident in the famous “police line-up” scene. The laughing you see there between the cast members is completely genuine, not acting.
The Usual Suspects is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. For this transfer, MGM went with an MPEG 2 encode averaging around 22 Mbps. This transfer has wonderful color accuracy and was very sharp at the same time. Skin tones were spot-on and blacks were very well reproduced. Much of this movie includes dark scenes, so the accuracy in the dark images was a nice improvement over the DVD version. Although this movie has very little action sequences in the scene at the end of the movie at the pier, I saw absolutely no macro blocking at in any of the explosion or fast-moving sequences.
This film does however have a fair amount of film grain and film debris. In a way it reminded me a lot of Rocky on Blu-ray or Field of Dreams on HD DVD. This is most likely as the director intended, so I will not hold this against the overall transfer. I will, however, hold the amount of film debris I saw on this transfer against my overall rating for this release. Film debris was evident on most of the bright scenes, especially the police lineup scene. I also noticed some noise around the image of each actor in that scene. Even with these shortcomings, the video on this release is a solid improvement over the DVD version.
Audio is where this new transfer excels over its DVD counterpart. As fans of this film know, this movie is almost all dialog. I watched this movie using the DTS-HD (lossless) option at a bit rate of 1.5 Mbps. The dialog was extremely well presented on the center channel of the 5.1 audio setup. I could hear conversation much better than the DVD version of this film. This new transfer also makes good use of LFE and the surrounds, especially during the dockyard fight scene at the end of the movie. Audio is where I feel this new transfer is the most improved over its DVD counterpart. It is a substantial improvement.
Full Color book.
Although I was not blown away with the new video transfer on this release, it is still a decent improvement over the DVD version. My only gripe is that I wish it had less film debris as I feel the film grain was intended by the director. The audio quality on the other hand is great; truly a substantial improvement over the DVD release. Now all dialog is completely audible, and we even get good use of LFE and surrounds in some of the action sequences. I would highly recommend this purchase for any fan of this film as it is a very nice improvement over the DVD version.
Includes material from Gino Sassani, Jeremy Frost and Joshua Noyes