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Case Number 27281: Small Claims Court

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The Suspect

RLJ Entertainment // 2013 // 98 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 2nd, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson is the main suspect in the Great Ham Robbery of 2013.

Editor's Note

Our review of The Suspect (2013) (Blu-ray), published August 4th, 2014, is also available.

The Charge

Nothing is black and white.

The Case

Also: everyone's a racist!

An African-American drifter named Freeman (Mekhi Phifer) turns up in a small town at the same time of a bank robbery, and he's immediately brought in for questioning. The town's sheriff (William Sadler, Die Hard 2) is skeptical of the man's innocence and brings him in for some vigorous interrogating.

The narrative jumps back and forth from this point, revealing pieces of the whole story and the truth behind the identity of Freeman, with all the strands ultimately dove-tailing together in a final, violent showdown where all will be revealed—but you're going to have to sit through some slow, methodical filmmaking and a truckload of awkward racial tension to get there. Question is, though: is the destination worth it?

I don't have a clean answer for that so maybe you should just chalk up this review to a waste of your two minutes. I'd like to cough up a black and white verdict for you (and suppose I'm going to have to by the time this review is over), but director Stuart Connelly has put together a provocative and sporadically frustrating mystery.

What's frustrating is its momentum. The Suspect crawls along with the pace of a sedated hedgehog and though the time jumps help keep things fresh, it's still going to be 90 or so minutes that feel a lot longer. However, if you have the patience, the performances and keep-you-guessing storytelling should be worth your time. The whole thing is put together well and peppered with enough switchbacks to keep the final ten minutes or so a surprise (though not the last scene, which was predictable).

I'm dancing around this review with vague language purposefully, however; watching this film with even a few plot points (i.e., steer clear of even the IMDb plot synopsis, which gives away spoilers) will exponentially dull your enjoyment of The Suspect and make the slow burn even slower. Though, to be fair, I did sort of spoil the big takeaway already, which is, in short, everyone is a racist so have fun with that.

The DVD: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital, director and producer commentaries, extended scenes, a music video and a making-of featurette.

The Verdict

Still mixed on this. But my final verdict is—oh, look a grease fire in my kitchen. Gotta go!

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: RLJ Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Crime
• Mystery
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentaries
• Extended Scenes
• Featurettes
• Music Video
• Trailer


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