Keyser Söze


Keyser Söze

Keyser Söze (pronEng|ˈkaɪzɚ ˈsoʊzeɪfact|date=May 2008) is a fictional character in the 1995 film "The Usual Suspects", written by Christopher McQuarrie and directed by Bryan Singer. Söze is an underworld kingpin whose ruthlessness and influence have a legendary, even mythical status among law enforcement agents and criminals alike. The character has become a common cultural reference point due to his role in the film's famous twist ending.fact|date=May 2008

In his 1999 review of "Fight Club", film critic Roger Ebert commented that "A lot of recent films seem unsatisfied unless they can add final scenes that redefine the reality of everything that has gone before; call it the Keyser Söze syndrome." [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19991015/REVIEWS/910150302 Fight Club] , review by Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, October 15, 1999, accessed February 15, 2008]

Background

Söze's past is unknown, but the story told by Verbal Kint has Söze beginning his criminal career in Turkey as a low-level drug dealer. The entity that is Keyser Söze is truly born, however, when rival smugglers working for the Hungarian mob invade his house while he is away, raping his wife and holding his children hostage. When Söze arrives they kill one of the children to show him their resolve. They then threaten to kill his wife and remaining children if he does not surrender his business to them. Rather than give in to their demands he murders his loved ones and all but one of the Hungarians, whom he spares knowing that the survivor would tell the mafia what has transpired.

Söze then goes after the mob, killing dozens of people, including the mobsters' families, friends, and even people who owe them money, as well as destroying their homes and businesses. He then goes "underground", never again doing business in person and remaining invisible even to his henchmen, who almost never know for whom they are working. One of the most famous lines from the movie, spoken by Kint is: "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn't exist." This is a paraphrased quote from a story by Baudelaire, [Charles Baudelaire [http://baudelaire.litteratura.com/?rub=oeuvre&srub=pop&id=167# "Le Joueur Généreux"] , "Mes chers frères, n'oubliez jamais, quand vous entendrez vanter le progrès des lumières, que la plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas!"] but neither McQuarrie nor Singer realised this at the time, and they "borrowed it from people who were quoting Baudelaire themselves." [ [http://www.dvdjournal.com/reviews/u/usualsuspects_se.shtml The Usual Suspects: Special Edition] review by Alexandra DuPont, DVD journal, accessed 15 February, 2008] When Söze does commit crimes, it is always in disguise and under a fake name, leaving no one the wiser.

Söze's ruthlessness is legendary, having enemies and disloyal henchmen brutally murdered, along with everyone they hold dear, for the slightest infractions. He does seem to have a very twisted sense of honor, however; if someone unknowingly steals from him he will usually offer them the chance to redeem themselves by carrying out a high-risk assignment, and if they survive their transgression is forgiven. Over the years his criminal empire, centered around the drug trade, flourishes, as does his legend; he becomes "a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night."

Film revelations

The film "The Usual Suspects" consists mostly of flashbacks narrated by con artist Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a petty criminal with cerebral palsy affecting one leg and one arm. Verbal has been granted near-total immunity from prosecution provided he assists investigators, including Customs Agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri), and reveals all details of his involvement with a group of notorious criminals assumed responsible for the destruction of a ship and the murder of nearly everyone aboard.

While Verbal is telling his story, Kujan learns the name Keyser Söze from FBI agent Jack Baer (Giancarlo Esposito), including Söze's reputation as a shadowy criminal mastermind, and demands Verbal tell him what he knows. Apparently deeply distraught, Verbal describes how he and a small group of career criminals are blackmailed by Söze, through Söze's lawyer Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite), into destroying a large drug shipment belonging to Söze's Hungarian rivals. All but Verbal and one Hungarian are killed during the attack. Baer believes there were no drugs and the true purpose of the attack was to eliminate a passenger on the ship that had seen and could identify Söze. Kujan confronts Verbal with the theory that Söze is, in fact, one of the criminals that Verbal had worked with: a corrupt former police officer and professional thief named Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne). Kujan's ongoing investigation of Keaton is what involved him in the case initially.

In the final scenes of the movie, it is suggested that Verbal's story is an elaborate concoction, made up of strung-together details culled from a crowded bulletin board in the office where the interrogation took place. The methods used to persuade the audience of this included a buzzing montage of voices from the movie, effectively cut and pasted with pictures and text from the board, as well as the "KOBAYASHI" manufacturer's logo printed on the bottom of Kujan's coffee cup. The surviving Hungarian, severely burned and hospitalized, describes to a sketch artist a man he saw during the attack that he believes is Keyser Söze. The sketch, which appears to be a near-perfect drawing of Verbal, is faxed to the police station too late. Verbal has already walked out on bail, his cerebral palsy limp suddenly fading. He uses a gold cigarette lighter similar to one Söze was seen with at the beginning of the film to light a cigarette with a steady hand, and climbs into a car driven by the character he has referred to throughout as Kobayashi. As they drive away, Kujan desperately looks around the crowded streets for Verbal having realized, too late, Verbal's true identity.

References

External links

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