Are you listening, Hollywood? Those of us who live somewhere trapped within the Left and Right Coast, requiring little more than four walls and a roof over our heads on these amber waves of grain get it, okay? You hate us. You downright loathe us. We’re scum only worth yet one more skewered, racist portrayal in the endless parade of balderdash you call entertainment. We’re not fit to breathe the air you breathe. We’re not fit to share these great living space. So why not continue to manufacture your ideological tripe and dump it in the foreign marketplace, perhaps where your like-minded brethren will scarf it up without so much as a second thought? Why expect our hard-earned money to support your attempts to proselytize any more citizens?
On your way out, stuff THE SUSPECT where the sun don’t shine, will ya?
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “A small town bank robbery leads to a brutal showdown between a sheriff and a mysterious stranger in this high stakes games of shifting identities and hidden motives … When the obvious suspect is apprehended not far from the crime scene, the police think that the case is solved, but they couldn’t be more wrong. The real crime hasn’t even happened yet. Before it’s over, two desperate men will be pushed over the line where innocent lives – and a lot of money – hang in the balance.”
Here’s a free tip for any budding auteurs reading: if your story requires a flashback, then tread lightly. If your story requires a flashback within a flashback, then maybe consult Quentin Tarantino. If your story requires a flashback within a flashback within a flashback, then maybe rework it. For starters, there’s way too much subtext for any regular brain to follow. Also, you run the risk of losing the entire audience if you have to result to post-production wizardry (such as cleverly switching between black-and-white versus color presentation) by adding yet one more layer of trickery to an already convoluted situation.
When you want to insult your audience directly and not package it under any respectable nuance, then you might want to be prepared for a small shelf-life. Certainly, I can’t see any significant reason to watch this flick a second time, nor am I comfortable giving it a thumbs up. Besides, it ends up being less of an organic story than it does a magic trick: it’s the kind where you know the girl is sawed in half at the end, and you even know how that happened … so what’s the point in watching? It ends up tiring you out by trying to spin yet one more surprise in a package that’s already bloated with its own merits.
Now, all of this isn’t to say that THE SUSPECT doesn’t have a story worth telling. I suspect that somewhere in this morass of stereotypes cobbled together by writer/director Stuart Connelly there was the germ of a grand idea – a good ol’ fashioned caper flick. Adding text and subtext in the standard Hollywood attempt to indict America for its past was an unnecessary if not downright offensive construction that I felt never served the story in any meaningful way. In the end, what there is of a story ends up feeling more like a political sermon only the already initiated will accept and (no doubt) applaud.
As for the performances? Mekhi Phifer pulls out all the stops while convincing everyone of his thuggery, and his twist later in the film (keep watching because there are more twists than any one film should have!) really didn’t seem all that enlightened. Perhaps if Connelly understood ‘subtlety’ then he would’ve had the chance to up his game here. Sadly, William Sadler has done this kind of thing before – maybe too many times – so his true motivations in the “big finish” didn’t seem all that surprising to this avid watcher of film. Everyone else? They’re just fodder filling the frame and spewing a message.
THE SUSPECT (2013) is produced by Modoc Spring. DVD distribution is being handled by RLJ Entertainment. As for the technical specifications, this is an exceedingly well-crafted motion picture, and the highest quality sights and sounds are available from start to finish, though some of the cinematography was a bit too ‘telegraphed’ for my tastes (there’s that subtlety again). Lastly, if it’s special features you want, then you’re in store for a treat: the disc boasts extended scenes, behind-the-scenes shorts, the theatrical trailer, and director/producer commentaries! Me? I wasn’t interested, mostly because I tend to reject heavy-handed ‘morals to the story’ where they’re so obviously biased.
(NOT REALLY) RECOMMENDED. Despite what writer/director Stuart Connelly might suggest were noble intentions, I found THE SUSPECT an ignorant and irresponsible piece of storytelling. So much of its set-up requires the bulk of the United States to be stuck culturally in the early 1960’s with police forces all across the fruited plains to be staffed with nothing but one racist white male after another. Performances work just fine for what they are, but this one was not my cup of tea in any estimation.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at RLJ Entertainment and Image Entertainment provided me with a DVD copy of THE SUSPECT (2013) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.