Under Suspicion (2000) / Action-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore, drug use, nudity, sexuality and language
Running Time: 108 min.
Cast: Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Monica Belluci
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Screenplay: Tom Provost, W. Peter Iliff
Review published September 2, 2000
Strangely, even with two powerhouse actors involved in a psychological chess-match thriller, Under Suspicion delivers in such a lackadaisical manner that it feels like a four person stage drama than a major motion picture. In this plot based on a book by John Wainwright and done in a previous film from 1981, Garde a Vue, Captain Victor Benizet (Freeman, Deep Impact) is a police chief in Puerto Rico trying to get to the bottom of a couple of rape-murder cases of young girls. The immediate suspect is millionaire Henry Hearst (Hackman, Enemy of the State), who has an alibi but is full of loose ends and inconsistencies that they detain him in hopes of further evidence.
There are so many good qualities to Under Suspicion that as a whole it's difficult not to view it as a very disappointing experience. Two very talented actors, a provocative plot, a stylish director, and an intriguing ending do very little to inject life into a screenplay full of holes and bizarre motivations that ring hollow.
Although the budget is $25 million (which is a lot if you consider the two stars probably waived their usual fees due to being executive producers), Under Suspicion feels too much like a made for TV potboiler, with almost 90% of the action taking place in two rooms. While the end to this film isn't totally predictable, it is so dishonest to the rest of the film, raising more questions than answers, that a predictable ending might have been just as well.
The experience of watching Under Suspicion is akin to being on a merry-go-round for two hours, where we do nothing but go around and around until it finally coming to a merciful stop, only to feel dizzy as a result.
©2004 Vince Leo