Study Guide

The Usual Suspects Criminality


Does crime pay? The Usual Suspects seems to suggest that it doesn't—unless you're a super master-criminal like Keyser Söze, in which case the answer is: yes.

The other criminals have a tendency to wind up dead. They get dragged into a police lineup, are manipulated by Redfoot, and finally die in a massacre at the port, killed by the very man who hired them—Söze.

But Söze effortlessly toys with everyone in the movie, dispatching his enemies with the same ease you'd pop candy out of a Pez dispenser. So, unless you're the kind of ruthless killer who will shoot his whole family to prove a point, it's best to avoid getting into this kind of drug-related criminal kerfuffle.

Questions About Criminality

  1. Do the criminals in the movie all get what they deserve?
  2. Does the movie portray the police as being morally superior to the criminals or not? Explain.
  3. Who are we meant to root for in the movie? A criminal like Verbal, or U.S. Customs Special Agent Kujan? Or is it possible to root for both on different levels? Explain.
  4. Is there any "honor among thieves" in this movie? Do any of the criminals manage to remain loyal to each other or are they all inherently selfish?

Chew on This

The criminals in The Usual Suspects break the law because they want money—it's all about getting rich.

The criminals don't mind getting rich, but their deepest motive actually involves taking shots at authority and asserting their own freedom by flouting the law.

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