Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
It's a nerve-shredding suspense movie about corruption, a bravura actor's show full of deliciously twisted cops and robbers, and a complex riddle packed with unexpected turns.
Los Angeles Times:
But like a tale from the Arabian Nights, told for the sheer pleasure of storytelling, this elegant puzzle not only enjoys showing off, it also has something to show.
If the pleasures of The Usual Suspects are the more superficial ones of ingenuity and style, those are abundantly available. The twists and turns of the plot are an awful lot of fun, while the ending is genuinely satisfying and surprising.
An imaginative, entertaining crime mystery with plenty of nerve and vigor.
New York Times:
This movie finally isn't anything more than an intricate feat of gamesmanship, but it's still quite something to see.
I didn't believe this story for a minute, even in movie terms -- though it's less offensive than a piece of junk like Apt Pupil, Singer's subsequent feature.
Dense with plot intricacies, thick with atmosphere, and packed with showy roles for a hip ensemble, The Usual Suspects is fun to watch -- a celebration of cool actors having a good time playing sweaty and devious lowlifes.
In a season of fat blockbusters, a picture as brainy, bitter, and compact as this one comes as a shock and a treat.
The Usual Suspects is an accomplished synthesis of noir elements and, as such, is an entertaining entry to the genre.
Once again, my comprehension began to slip, and finally I wrote down: 'To the degree that I do understand, I don't care.'
San Francisco Chronicle:
As entertainment, the film is a lukewarm experience. But as a piece of construction, The Usual Suspects is a slick bit of business.
For many true movie fiends, noir is the key American movie type, and the most fun when it's done right. The Usual Suspects is done right.
Singer creates a classy, thought-provoking mystery that is pleasingly old-fashioned and absolutely modern in the sly, slightly self-conscious play it makes with myth and methods of storytelling.
A terrific cast of exciting actors socks over this absorbingly complicated yarn that's been spun in seductively slick fashion by director Bryan Singer.
The twist at the end is a corker, but crucial questions remain unanswered. What's interesting, though, is how little this intrudes on our enjoyment.
After following the beckoning twists and turns, you're left trapped and more than a little disappointed for getting in so deep.