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The Big Clue Everyone Missed Early In The Usual Suspects

The world wasn't quite ready for all the twists and turns in the surprise 1995 hit "The Usual Suspects." But the shifty thriller scored $23 million at the box office off just a $6 million budget, per Box Office Mojo — not too shabby. Some might even call it a steal. Boosted by terrific performances by Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, and Kevin Spacey, and powered by a mesmerizing script from Christopher McQuarrie ("Mission Impossible: Fallout"), the movie struck a sneaky chord with audiences everywhere. The much-ballyhooed twist ending probably had a little something to do with it.

You remember the basic plot, right? U.S. Customs agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) grills felon Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey) about a massive drug deal gone bad, of which Kint is essentially the sole survivor. Kint claims a boogeyman named Keyser Soze was responsible for all the carnage. This includes the deaths of all of Kint's cohorts, who came together in the first place under suspicious circumstances. Already confusing, right? It was all deliberate.

This movie keeps your head spinning pretty much from the get-go, and when you're not busy wondering who is zooming who, you're busy trying to figure out what the heck Fenster (Del Toro) is saying. But there's so much else to process — you just go with it.

However, that doesn't mean the eagle-eyed viewer can't solve this mystery. If you're really on top of your game, that is. There are clues — and a big one drops right out of the gate.

Keyser Soze has a tell

The movie's opening scene shows Dean Keaton's (Gabriel Byrne) last moments as Keyser Soze finishes him off. While Soze's true identity is never revealed here, there are a few things to pick up on if you're paying attention — including the use of a gold cigarette lighter.

It's just a tiny detail, and the film is full of them — most notably demonstrated when agent Kujan finally notices all the bits and pieces from the office that have been artfully woven into the tale being spun by Kint during his interview. But by then, it's a moment too late because Verbal Kint has left the building and has already disappeared.

However, on his way to that final vanishing act, Kint retrieves his personal belongings from the police station. Among the items is a familiar gold cigarette lighter, which he then uses on the street before stepping into a waiting car. This is when it's evident that Kint is Keyer Soze and has lied about everything. He doesn't even have a limp — and he probably wasn't even in a barbershop quartet like he implied. How dare he!

So yes, this clue doesn't pay off until the end. But still, the clever viewer will be tipped off just before everyone else, and in a movie like "The Usual Suspects," isn't that how you play the game?