Analysis of The Usual Suspects

Summary The movie begins with the murder of Dean Keaton by Keyser Soze on a boat, with Verbal Kint narrating the story. Keaton and his associates are accused of a truck heist and are interrogated by the police. Verbal is offered immunity in exchange for information about the heist and mentions the mythical figure, Keyser Soze. The group executes a heist, and tensions rise as they try to deal with the fallout. Mr. Kobayashi approaches the group and offers them a job to stop a drug deal, leading to the revelation of Keyser Soze's horrific past. Keaton and his team execute the job but encounter unexpected obstacles and face the threat of loved ones being harmed. Kujan realizes Keaton was Keyser Soze and tries to find him. Verbal Kint, who witnesses Keyser Soze's presence, is shaken and reveals the truth to Kujan. The movie ends with Verbal's escape and Kujan searching for him.

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Dean Keaton Dean Keaton's character arc in the movie follows his journey from a defeated man who is resigned to his fate to a man who regains his confidence and takes charge of his situation. He starts off as someone who is constantly on the losing side, but as the movie progresses, he becomes more confident and resolute, willing to take risks and make tough decisions. This is evident in his leadership of his gang and his interactions with Verbal, where he demonstrates his ability to think on his feet and stay ahead of the game. Ultimately, however, he meets his end, and in his final moments, he reveals just how far he's come, dying with a sense of purpose and dignity. The character arc for Dean Keaton is well-constructed and provides a satisfying resolution to his story. However, it feels a bit predictable at times, especially in the way that it progresses from defeat to confidence. Moreover, Keaton can come across as a bit too one-dimensional, lacking the nuance and complexity that would make him truly memorable.
To improve the character arc for Dean Keaton, the writers could consider adding more depth to his character, exploring his motivations and his relationship with the other characters in the movie. This could help to make him feel more fully realized as a character, rather than just a plot device. Additionally, the arc could benefit from some unexpected twists or turns, so that it doesn't feel like a predictable ascent from defeat to triumph. By adding more complexity and unpredictability to Keaton's journey, the character arc could become even more compelling and satisfying.
Verbal Kint Verbal Kint starts off as a mysterious figure, seemingly knowing more than he lets on. As the story progresses, we learn more about his past and see his manipulative side as he charms and tries to control those around him. In the climax, Verbal is revealed to be the mastermind behind the heist and has been playing everyone for fools. His escape and connection to Keyser Soze hint at a darker side to his personality. While Verbal eventually reveals himself to be the mastermind behind the heist, it feels a little too convenient and doesn't fully explain some of his earlier behaviors. Additionally, his reveal as Keyser Soze seems to come out of nowhere and doesn't quite fit with the rest of the story.
To improve Verbal's character arc, it would be helpful to foreshadow his true identity more throughout the movie. Perhaps have him drop more hints about his past or give him moments of heightened intelligence that suggest he may be more than meets the eye. Additionally, it may be beneficial to explore Verbal's motivations for planning the heist and manipulating those around him. This could help give his reveal as Keyser Soze more weight and make it feel more natural.
McManus McManus initially displays a false sense of bravado and uncooperative attitude towards the police. However, as the heist progresses and his loyalty to his fallen comrade Fenster deepens, he develops a greater sense of responsibility towards his team. Despite his impulsive nature, McManus learns to trust the leadership of Keaton and ultimately puts his own life on the line to ensure the success of the mission. By the end of the movie, McManus has transformed into a more dependable and mature team player. The character arc of McManus lacks a clear turning point and is not well-developed. Some of his reactions to situations appear inconsistent with his earlier behavior, and his loyalty to Fenster seems to come out of nowhere. Additionally, McManus's impulsive nature is not fully explored in the film, making it difficult to understand his character motivations.
To improve the character arc of McManus, the film could have included more backstory to explain his violent tendencies and impulsive behavior. Additionally, his bond with Fenster could have been better developed in earlier scenes to make it more believable. It would also help if McManus's character was given more screen time and dialogue to fully flesh out his personality.
Fenster Fenster goes from being a nervous liability to a hot-headed criminal who feels mistreated by the police, ultimately leading to his untimely death. The character arc for Fenster is relatively weak and lacks a clear resolution. The arc is mostly focused on showcasing his negative traits rather than showing any personal growth or development.
To improve the character arc for Fenster, the writers could have added more moments of vulnerability and redemption. For example, Fenster could have had a poignant moment where he admits to his mistakes and expresses remorse for his criminal actions. Another suggestion is to add a scene where Fenster stands up for himself and proves that he is capable of contributing to the team rather than just being a liability.
Hockney Hockney starts off as a sarcastic and skeptical member of the group, but becomes more invested in the success of the operation. He questions the legitimacy and danger of their latest job, but ultimately follows Keaton's lead. He becomes more daring and agile during the heist itself, and ultimately sacrifices himself for the success of the mission. Hockney's character arc is not very well developed and feels somewhat one-dimensional. His motivations for going along with the heist are not clear, and his arc largely revolves around becoming more invested in the operation and ultimately sacrificing himself.
To improve Hockney's character arc, it would be helpful to explore his motivations and backstory more. Why is he a criminal? What does he hope to gain from the heist? Additionally, Hockney's arc could benefit from more internal conflict and growth. For example, he could struggle with whether or not to go through with the heist, or be forced to make a difficult choice during the mission that reveals something about his character.
Keaton Keaton begins as a cool and indifferent criminal, but as the movie progresses, he becomes more conflicted and guilt-ridden about his past and his involvement in the heist. He ultimately becomes a determined leader who is willing to risk everything for the job, but his guilt ultimately leads to his downfall. The character arc is well-developed, but it could benefit from more clarity in Keaton's motivations and emotions throughout the movie.
To improve the character arc, it could be helpful to have more scenes that explore Keaton's inner turmoil and his reasons for joining the heist. Additionally, showing more of his relationship with Edie Finneran and how it impacts his decisions could add depth to the character.
Baer Baer starts off as a resourceful and determined FBI agent who takes action to investigate Kovash's mention of Keyser Soze. He becomes frustrated but tries to maintain control as he becomes more interested in finding out about the Devil and Keyser Soze. Later in the movie, he receives information about the aftermath of the heist from another FBI agent. Throughout the movie, Baer remains a seasoned veteran with a skeptical yet open mind. While Baer's character arc provides consistency and stability to the narrative, it feels incomplete compared to the other main characters whose arcs are more complex and meaningful.
To improve Baer's character arc, his backstory could be further explored to add depth to his character. Additionally, he could face more obstacles or challenges that would require him to evolve and grow as a person, rather than remaining static throughout the movie.
Verbal Verbal's character arc starts off as an unexpected addition to the scene who appears to have some knowledge about the situation. He then becomes a more integral member of the heist team and is able to manipulate situations to his advantage, showcasing his cleverness and cunning. As the story unfolds, Verbal's true abilities and past are slowly revealed, culminating in the reveal that he is actually Keyser Soze, the mastermind behind it all. Verbal's arc is one of transformation from a nervous and uncertain criminal to a master manipulator and skilled deceiver. While Verbal's arc is interesting and keeps the audience guessing about his true intentions and abilities, some may criticize the reliance on the twist ending to define his character arc. Additionally, some may argue that Verbal's character development is overshadowed by the plot and reveals, leaving him as more of a plot device than a fully-realized character.
To improve Verbal's character arc, more focus could be placed on his internal struggles and motivations throughout the film, rather than just the reveal of his true identity. Additionally, giving Verbal more agency and involvement in the heist beyond his manipulation of situations would further flesh out his character and make his reveal as Keyser Soze even more impactful.
Kujan Kujan starts off as a jaded and cynical detective determined to prove Keaton guilty but gradually uncovers the truth about the harbor heist and Soze's involvement. He goes from being dominant and intimidating to manipulative and obsessive in his pursuit of catching Soze, eventually breaking the rules to do so. While Kujan's character arc is interesting, it feels somewhat lacking in emotional depth. We don't get much insight into what drives him to catch Soze beyond a general sense of duty and ambition, and his character development feels somewhat predictable.
To improve Kujan's character arc, it might be helpful to give him more personal stakes in the case - for example, perhaps he has a personal vendetta against Soze or a loved one was hurt in the harbor heist. This would make his obsession and willingness to bend the rules more understandable and emotionally resonant. Additionally, exploring his relationships with other characters in more depth (such as Verbal or his FBI colleagues) could add more complexity and nuance to his character.