Six weeks ago, a truck carrying stripped gun parts gets hijacked outside of Queens. Police arrest McManus, Hockney and Fenster. Customs Agent Dave Kujan arrests Keaton. Verbal Kint is also in the line-up.
McManus was a top-notch entry man. Fenster always worked with McManus. Todd Hockney was good with explosives. But, Keaton was the real prize for the police — a newly-reformed businessman.
All five are in the same holding cell. McManus heard Keaton was dead. Keaton says he heard right, but he can’t believe they’d put five felons in the same voice line-up if it wasn’t a shakedown. McManus tells the others about a job.
At San Pedro harbour, they find fifteen badly-charred corpses, still discovering more. Of the two survivors, one’s in a coma and the other’s a cripple from New York called Verbal Kint.
Kujan is desperate to meet Verbal — having flown to LA from New York especially. Last night, the DA wanted to arraign Verbal. Five minutes later, his lawyer arrives and bulldozes the DA into submission. Now, it’s turned political. The mayor, the chief and the governor are involved. Verbal posts bail in two hours and Kujan wants to make sure Keaton’s dead.
LA County Hospital. The other survivor wakes from his coma. He has 60% burns and broken ribs. He’s called Arkosh Kovash, and starts yelling in Hungarian, repeating the name Keyser Soze.
In Sergeant Jeff Rabin’s messy office, Verbal wants a coffee. Once, he was so dehydrated, his urine came out like mucus. Verbal says Jeff is tense, like a baritone he knew called Kip Diskin — when Verbal was in a barbershop quartet in Skokie, Illinois.
Kujan says Keaton was a corrupt cop and Verbal’s just a short-con operator. Kujan threatens Verbal, saying that mutual friend and bigtime dealer, Ruby Deemer, has a lot of incarcerated friends do favours for Kujan. Verbal goes off on a tangent talking about picking beans in Guatemala, where they’d make fresh coffee right off the trees.
Fenster and McManus’s proposition was fast jump, high risk, long money. To do it right took five men, but Keaton took convincing. McManus had a friend in the 14th Precinct. New York’s Finest Taxi Service were collecting an emerald smuggler this Thursday. The job’s likely worth $3m.
New York’s Finest Taxi Service was a ring of corrupt cops that ran a high-profit racket. For a price, smugglers and drug dealers got their own police escort. Internal Affairs had been wanting to catch them at it for ages.
Three vans quickly block in the police taxi, all passengers shouted down and held at gunpoint. The windscreen is smashed from above and removed. The emeralds and cash are seized. The police car’s covered in petrol, set alight and the gang leaves. After an anonymous call to the cops, the press get there first. Within a few weeks, fifty or so cops, including the chief, are arrested. The group then go to California to meet McManus’s fence, Redfoot.
Keaton was under indictment seven times while on the force. In every case, the witnesses were stopped from testifying. In Sing Sing, Keaton killed three fellow prisoners — but it can’t be proven. Bizarrely, Dean Keaton died in a fire. Two people saw him go inside a warehouse he owned to check a leaking gas main. Three months after the explosion, those people were dead.
Now with a Hungarian interpreter, Agent Baer asks Kovash about last night. They were buying people. Keyser Söze was in the harbour killing many men. Baer asks Kovash to describe Keyser Soze to the police artist.
Six weeks ago, Kujan was tipped off that he could find Keaton at Mondino’s with his attorney, Edie Finneran. He was dead just long enough for the murder rap to blow over and then he had lunch.
This time, Kujan wants to be sure Keaton’s dead. When Verbal mentions his barbershop quartet again, Kujan threatens to call Ruby. Verbal talks about a lawyer called Kobayashi.
Redfoot takes the emeralds and hands McManus a briefcase. A jeweller, called Saul Berg, out of Texas, carries a lot of cash. Redfoot would keep the jewels, McManus and friends would keep the cash.
Saul — plus bodyguards — arrives in a carpark. A van pulls up, there’s shouting and guns are brandished. Saul hides in his car. Hockney and Fenster each grapple with a bodyguard. Keaton smashes the car window and disarms Saul.
McManus collects Saul’s gun from the floor and aims a gun each at the bodyguards grappling with Hockney and Fenster. After a moment tracking them, McManus kills both bodyguards simultaneously. Verbal kills Saul and Keaton takes the briefcase. Later, they discover pouches of cocaine instead of cash.
Redfoot explains he got the job from “some Limey lawyer” — a middle man for someone. But, any more surprises from Redfoot means McManus will kill him. Then, Redfoot threatens to tell the cops who whacked Saul.
Keaton wonders who could track them from New York to LA. Lawyer, Kobayashi, appears and presents a proposal — a very dangerous job. It’s an offer from his immediate boss, Keyser Söze. If they decline, Mr Redfoot could easily be forced to testify to their involvement in Saul Berg and his bodyguards’ murder.
In three days’ time, some Argentinian competitors of Soze are negotiating a $91m cocaine deal. The group must destroy the coke, but can keep the money.
The lawyer leaves the group with detailed criminal histories of each person. The way Fenster hears it, Söze is a peerless, psycho butcher. Keyser Soze is unknown to Verbal.
Nobody ever knew Keyser Soze or saw anybody that worked directly for him. Early on, three Hungarians raped his wife and terrorised his children. They kill one of his children and demand all his business. Söze arrives and executes two of the Hungarians, then puts his own family out of their misery. The last Hungarian is released. Soze buries his family, then hunts down the other Hungarian mob members. He also murders anyone even remotely connected to the Hungarians, and vanishes.
After the meeting, Fenster disappears. He’s found dead on a beach. Soon, everyone sets their minds to whacking Kobayashi.
Kobayashi and bodyguards get in a lift. McManus kills both bodyguards and makes Kobayashi press “floor twenty”. Keaton says there’s no Keyser Söze. Even so, Kobayashi’s more afraid of Soze than he is these men. Kobayashi implores Keaton that Keyser Söze is very real and very determined.
Then, Kobayashi mentions that Keaton’s lawyer girlfriend, Edie, is upstairs in Kobayashi’s office. He levels devastating threats against the loved ones of each man, then politely excuses himself.
The group waits for the money before storming the ship. McManus is on a rooftop with a sniper’s rifle. Keaton suddenly suggests Verbal hangs back. If Keaton doesn’t get Kobayashi his way, Edie’ll get him her way.
Keaton speaks in Spanish to the dockside men. When the diversion bomb explodes, Keaton shoots those directly around him. McManus starts killing from the roof. Soon, McManus is going cabin to cabin, firing into each. Hockney gets killed.
Verbal explains to Kujan that it seemed Keaton might pull it off. Outside, Baer says they found Argentinian Arturo Marquez dead. Marquez informed on close to fifty people — including Keyser Söze.
Gunfire all around, Arturo Marquez is petrified in his cabin. He screams that Keyser Soze is on board. McManus meets Keaton, who says there’s no coke. Marquez pleads with Soze for his life. Two gunshots splatter against the porthole.
McManus collapses with a knife in his neck. Keaton is by McManus’s corpse when he himself is shot in the back. Somebody else appears one floor up.
Kujan asks if Verbal saw Keyser Söze. Verbal repeats that there was dope on that boat. Kujan angers. Verbal falls to the floor, Kujan demanding the truth. Verbal saw someone kill Keaton, but was too afraid to help. How do you shoot the Devil in the back with a paralysed hand?
Kujan tells Verbal about Arturro Marquez — the one person who could incriminate Keyser Söze. Keaton was Keyser Söze. Only Soze could wrangle men like Hockney and McManus, engineer a line-up and kill Edie Finneran. Keaton used all of them to get on that boat. He had to kill Marquez personally.
Verbal breaks down crying — blaming everything on Keaton. He’s posted bail now, so he leaves. Downstairs, he collects his things: one watch, gold; one cigarette lighter; gold; one pack of cigarettes.
Kujan drinks his coffee and notices something — dropping his cup. On Jeff’s pinboard, he reads: Quartet. Skokie, Illinois. Redfoot. Guatemala. “Kobayashi porcelain” on the base of his cup.
The photofit fax from the hospital arrives and it’s Verbal. Outside, Verbal starts walking without a limp, then he’s collected by car. Kujan is moments too late.
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And, like that… He’s gone.
Starring Kevin Spacey. Gabriel Byrne. Chazz Palminteri. Rated 18. Dir Bryan Singer. Released in the UK 1995. Runtime 1hr 46mins