|First appearance||The Usual Suspects|
|Created by||Christopher McQuarrie|
|Portrayed by||Kevin Spacey|
|Aliases||Roger "Verbal" Kint|
|Occupation||Drug lord, con artist|
Keyser Söze (pron.: / / KY-zər SOH-zay) is a fictional character in the 1995 film The Usual Suspects, written by Christopher McQuarrie and directed by Bryan Singer. According to petty con artist Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), Söze is a crime lord whose ruthlessness and influence have acquired a legendary, even mythical, status among police and criminals alike. The character was named the No. 48 villain in the American Film Institute's "AFI's 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains" in June 2003.
According to "Verbal" Kint, who points out that Keyser Söze's father is believed to have been German, Söze was once a petty drug dealer who began his criminal career in his native Turkey. The legendary persona of Keyser Söze is born when rival Hungarian smugglers invade his house while he is away, rape his wife and hold his children hostage; when Söze arrives, they kill one of the children to show him their resolve, 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, and to prevent his family from having to live with the memory of what has happened, he "shows these men of will what will really is," in Kint's phrasing; he kills his own family and all but one of the Hungarians, knowing the survivor will tell the Mafia what has happened.
Söze waits until his family is buried and then goes after the mob, killing dozens of people including the mobsters's 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 he didn't exist." This statement paraphrases a line in a story by Charles Baudelaire, as translated from the original French. Neither McQuarrie nor Singer realized this at the time and they "borrowed it from people who were quoting Baudelaire themselves."
Söze's ruthlessness is legendary; he is described as having had enemies and disloyal henchmen brutally murdered, along with everyone they hold dear, for the slightest infractions–-and as having personally murdered people who have seen him and can identify him. Over the years his criminal empire, including the drug trade and the smuggling of weapons and materials, flourishes, as does his legend; he becomes, as Kint says during his interrogation, "a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. 'Rat on your pop, and Keyser Söze will get you.'"
Film revelations 
The film The Usual Suspects consists mostly of flashbacks narrated by Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a con artist with cerebral palsy. Verbal has been granted immunity from prosecution provided he assists investigators, including Customs Agent David Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) and reveals all details of his involvement with a group of career criminals who are assumed to be responsible for the destruction of a ship and the murder of nearly everyone aboard.
While Kint is telling his story, Kujan learns the name Keyser Söze from FBI agent Jack Baer (Giancarlo Esposito) and demands Kint tell him what he knows. Kint describes how he and his cohorts are blackmailed by Söze, through Söze's lawyer Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite), into destroying a large drug shipment belonging to Söze's Argentinian rivals. All but Kint and a Hungarian are killed in the attack. Baer believes there were no drugs and the true purpose of the attack was to eliminate a passenger on the ship who could identify Söze. Kujan confronts Kint with the theory that Söze is one of the four other criminals that Verbal had worked with: a corrupt former police officer and professional thief named Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne). Kujan's investigation of Keaton is what involved him in the case.
In the final sequence of the movie, it is revealed that the story that Kint had told Kujan is a fabrication, made up of strung-together details culled from a crowded bulletin board in the messy office of the police detective where Kujan had conducted Kint's interrogation, including the "Kobayashi" logo on his coffee cup. The surviving Hungarian, severely burned and in a hospital, describes Keyser Söze to a sketch artist: the drawing faxed in to the police station resembles none other than Roger Kint. But Kujan realizes the truth too late, as "Kint"--actually Söze--has already walked out on bail, his limp and the paralysis of his left hand both suddenly gone, and he gets into a car driven by "Kobayashi." As they drive away, Kujan desperately, and vainly, looks around the crowded streets for "Kint," having realized too late that he had had Söze, the very man he had been looking for, under interrogation the entire time.
In popular culture 
Since the release of the film, the name "Keyser Söze" has gained two popular uses in Western culture, both as a description of a legendary figure, usually of underworld crime, or as a shorthand reference to being fooled into believing in a person who does not exist. This use of the name is owed to the film's twist ending.
In his 1999 review of Fight Club, which was generally negative, film critic Roger Ebert commented, "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.'"
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
- Baudelaire, Le Joueur Généreux, where the Devil recounts to a gambler that he has even heard a preacher (plus subtil que ses confrères) cry: 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!
- French text
- The Usual Suspects: Special Edition review by Alexandra DuPont, DVD journal, accessed February 15, 2008
- The section is referenced to the film in which the character exists, The Usual Suspects.
- Fight Club, review by Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, October 15, 1999, accessed February 15, 2008.
Further reading 
- Wilson, Wayne (1999), The Psychopath in Film, University Press of America, pp. 251–279, ISBN 0-7618-1317-9
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