The Crushed Film Festival presents: Suspect
by Sarah D. Bunting
The Movie: Suspect
The Crush Object: Dennis Quaid
The Story: Public defender Kathleen Riley (Cher) gets saddled with what looks like an unwinnable case — her homeless client, Carl Wayne Anderson (Liam Neeson), has circumstantial evidence stacked up against him like cordwood, plus he's deaf and can't assist her very well in his defense, and the judge in the case (John Mahoney, struggling with a horrid mustache) seems to have it in for her. Juror Eddie Sanger (Quaid) decides to help her dig up the evidence she needs, even though that's illegal.
I feel like this movie is nearly forgotten now, and that's not surprising. It's the lowest-profile of Cher's 1987 releases (Moonstruck and Witches of Eastwick were the others, so there you go), and suspending your disbelief plot-wise for this one requires a complex system of pulleys, but if you can manage it, Suspect isn't a bad watch. (It's a bit painful wardrobe-wise, but everyone's in business-wear most of the time, which helps.) The cast is very solid and, overall, avoids the overacting that the frequently-ludicrous exposition might seem to call for (Joe Mantegna as the D.A. has a few shouty moments…and an unfortunate butt-cut).
But the central mystery is both needlessly complicated and simplistic at the same time, and Sanger's role in it is not credible. In fact, Sanger's everyday life — he's a semi-sleazy lobbyist who's willing to boink committee chairs to get legislation turned his way, and, we're to infer, throws his weight behind Riley to make up for the injustices he himself is responsible for — is only credible because it's Quaid, who is at his foxiness peak here.
The Backstory: See previous sentence. This is another one of those movies I watched a kabrillion times because HBO had the rights to it for a period of months (I have parts of Innerspace memorized for the same reason)…and because Quaid, who I would still jump on if he went past me any slower than a sprint, has never looked foxier than he does here. Yeah, yeah, The Big Easy — I feel you, but I thought that accent was corny. Just my opinion; talk amongst yourselves.
Also: a fetal Michael Beach plays the parking-lot attendant. He is wearing tight cargo pants and, you know, being Michael Beach. I didn't care about that back in the day, but it does increase the movie's net worth for me now, because: hot. Does he do audiobooks? Because I would like to listen to them. I really don't care what they're about. That guy's voice is butter.
The Embarrassment Level: It's not the movie itself; it's that I've seen it dozens of times, and that I used to await Quaid's shirtless scene eagerly, even though he's shirtless because his character has just gotten knifed in the stomach. So, that's not a point of pride, but it's still not that bad. One and a half.
Tags: Cher Dennis Quaid Joe Mantegna John Mahoney Liam Neeson Michael Beach movies The Crushed Film Festival