Study Guide

The Usual Suspects Keyser Söze

Keyser Söze

The Big Bad

The devil himself. The Loch Ness Monster. The most terrifying man with an umlaut in his name since Hermann Göring.

Keyser Söze.

And yes—Söze's also a character. But we covered him in that section already because we covered Verbal, the real Keyser Söze. (We're nothing if not comprehensive.)

Yet, Söze is more than just Verbal's real identity—he's a symbol pumped up by Verbal, signifying evil and wrath on a major scale. In the version Verbal tells—and which he says he believes—Söze demonstrates his propensity for violence and vengeance in a startlingly psychopathic way.

When his rivals, a gang of Hungarian drug dealers, rape his wife and slit the throats of one of his children, Söze shows them just how intense and cold he can be.

Here's how Verbal tells it:

"They tell Söze they want his territory—all his business. Söze looks over the faces of his family... Then he showed these men of will what will really was... He tells them he would rather see his family dead than live another day after this."

Söze shoots all of his own remaining children and his wife, right in front of his enemies. He then kills all of the gangsters' families and family friends, before burning down their homes and businesses.

To say Söze is hardcore is putting it mildly.

A Good Story? Or Proof Of Huge Evil?

But…is any of this true? Or is it just an origin story that Verbal wants us to believe to make himself look just as scary as everyone believes he is? We don't know.

Verbal goes out of his way to make Söze sound like an incarnation of Satan, telling Kujan,

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."

and

"Keaton always said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well, I believe in God...and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Söze."

He explains that the cops don't believe in Söze because they always think there's a more rational explanation, something smaller and simpler—they don't want to believe in a master arch-criminal directing crime from behind the scenes.

The scene where Kujan pins Keaton as the bad guy might trick us into thinking that there is this smaller, more reasonable explanation—but the finale, in which Verbal turns out to be Keyser, shows us that the movie wants us to be open to this idea of true, masterly evil.

Interesting tidbit: the word "Söze" actually comes from a Turkish expression söze bagmak, which means, "talks too much" in Turkish. So, if you were watching the movie in Turkey, it would be no surprise when Verbal, the guy who "talks too much" turns out to be Söze. (Source)

And that, guys, is why you should strive to be bilingual—in order to figure out movies a full ninety minutes ahead of all those monolingual chumps.

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