The Writer And Director Of The Usual Suspects Still Don't Agree On What Happened

Every generation has been lucky enough to have a gut-punch movie ending, from the twists at the ends of Psycho or The Crying Game (for examples) to the rug pulls that concluded The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects. But for the finale of Bryan Singer’s criminal masterpiece, it turns out that the director and the screenwriter haven different ideas about what really happened.

In a conversation with Creative Screenwriting, Christopher McQuarrie – who took home the Screenplay Oscar for his work on Suspects in 1996 – revealed that he and the director could not come to terms with what actually happened… and added that fan theories submitted to the duo over the years also did a lot to change how he views the action presented on screen. McQuarrie elaborates:

[Singer] has one scenario, I have another. The film would not work if it answered all of your questions. I have heard many theories about what happened, and some of them are so good, I wish I had written them. To me, a film that answers all of your questions is pointless. People are paying a lot of money to support your bullshit. If you don’t give them something to take with them, you are a thief, a lousy storyteller.

And here I thought that the ending of The Usual Suspects closed a LOT of its open loops, and the fact that so many questions were answered is MOST of the reason why the movie works as well as it does. Obviously, stop reading now if you haven’t yet seen The Usual Suspects.

I suppose that Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie could be arguing about the fine points of the elaborate story that Verbal (Kevin Spacey) spins for Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri). But the detours in the journey aren’t quite as important as the destination, right? I mean, they both have to agree that Verbal IS Keyser Soze. Don’t they? Watch the greatest ending in recent memory, and relive the jolt of adrenaline your felt when all of the pieces started snapping into place.

It’s always fun to have the creative minds behind such mesmerizing films weigh in on the process. This piece with McQuarrie is a terrific read, and one that explains how he and Singer didn’t even know they were reinventing the wheel with their structure-busting narrative. Give it a read, and then pop Suspects into your nearest DVD player and revisit its brilliance.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.