Suspect (1987)

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Released 16-Oct-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-And Justice For All;Absence Of Malice;Devil In A Blue Dress
Audio Commentary
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 116:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter Yates
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Cher
Dennis Quaid
Liam Neeson
John Mahoney
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Michael Kamen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In recent years, we have been flooded with court dramas, both on the big screen and on TV. Because of this, we will have quite recently seen many of the plot devices used in Suspect. While this does not greatly detract from the film, it does help to remember that this was released in 1987.

    According to the director, this is Liam Neeson's first American film. While I enjoyed his portrayal of a Jedi Knight, this is a role with much more depth. He plays a deaf mute who is accused of murder, and this means that he has to play the role purely through body language and expression. I think he does extremely well. During the director's commentary, Peter Yates mentions that he proposed using Neeson for the part and that there was resistance to the use of a British actor. When he pointed out that he was from Ireland and not from England, the objections evaporated. I am not sure what to make of this, but having being born in Ireland myself, I had a good laugh.

    All of the cast, including Cher, Dennis Quaid, John Mahoney and Joe Mantegna all bring wonderful performances to this film. This along with a very good script make for just under two hours of riveting viewing.

    Suspect is a suspense thriller, and as such the plot summary can only really cover the first part of the film where they set up the plot line. To say any more would be to reveal too much and ruin the film.

    The film opens with a series of seemingly unconnected events; a judge commits suicide; a murdered woman is found and a homeless man is arrested and charged with the murder. Cher plays a public defender, Kathleen Riley, who is assigned to the homeless man as his defense attorney. A Washington lobbyist, Eddie Sanger (Dennis Quaid) is called up for jury duty for the murder trial. Eddie decides to try and help Kathleen prove that the defendant is innocent. He contacts Kathleen outside of the court, which is of course very illegal and after an initial refusal, the two start working together to solve the mystery of the murder. From here we are plunged into two cesspools, the underlife of a large city and its homeless; and the high-powered world of the upper-crust, politicians and high court judges.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Considering that this film was released in 1987, it is in remarkable condition.

    We are presented with a 1.78:1 transfer that is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is quite soft throughout the film. Sharp detail is simply missing. This affects both the foreground and the background. There is a long shot down a corridor at 11:38. At the end of the corridor there is a door and at the top the door jamb. The door jamb has two steps in its construction. If you watch this as the scene progresses, the horizontal detail is hard to see and at times completely disappears. Shadow detail is quite good with no major problems. It is very interesting to note that the director himself makes a comment on the transfer during his commentary. There are two scenes that apparently he intended to be quite dark and that someone has intentionally lightened. That someone would do this left me stunned - that the director then mentioned it on the disc left me with my mouth hanging open. There is very little low level noise.

    The colours are somewhat muted and the skin tones a little washed-out, but overall they are pretty good. There is a tiny amount of colour bleed, such as on the flag at 8:37, though chances are I would never have noticed if not for the flag which alternates red and white, the worst possible combination. There is no chroma noise.

    This is a dual layered disc and with the lack of fine detail the MPEG encoder would not have been taxed by this film. There are no MPEG artefacts at all throughout the film. They have applied quite a lot of edge enhancement to this transfer. At 13:58, Eddie is filmed against the sky while wearing a dark overcoat - there is a very clear halo surrounding him. There is no evidence of aliasing. The film source is good from the point of view of artefacts. There are some black and white specks and some other dust particles but they are reasonably rare and not distracting.

    There are a number of subtitles. I watched the English and found them easy to read and quite accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 69:37. It occurs during a still shot of a painting while there is no music. If it were not for the echoing steps in the background, this would have been a very difficult layer change to find.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   There are six audio tracks on this disc:

    I listened to the English soundtrack. The packaging incorrectly states that the German soundtrack is stereo - it does have the surround bit set and appears to be surround encoded.

    The dialogue quality is very good, and I had no problems understanding what was being said. There are no problems with audio sync.

    The music for the film was written by Michael Kamen. I find films that do not have a constant background of music quite refreshing. Where the music is used, it works very well to help build the tension, of particular importance in a thriller.

    Every time I review a surround-encoded film, I take a moment to re-orient my thinking. We are very spoiled, and in some films overwhelmed, by the use of the surrounds these days, particularly with discrete soundtracks. When you first sit down to a film like this you can find yourself thinking that there is no surround activity at all. The next time this happens, turn off the decoding on your amp and listen to the straight stereo signal. I think you might be in for a surprise at just how accustomed to the surrounds you have become. There is surround activity on this film, both for ambience and for the music, but it simply does not jump out and make itself noticed. It does, however, add a good presence to the soundtrack.

    There was not really any activity from the sub at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   

Menu

    The menu is a static picture that is presented at 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. There is no music.

Director's Commentary: Peter Yates

    While there are a couple of interesting tid-bits in this commentary, it is not very good. There are long periods of silence and when he does speak it is only for a short time. Most will find it difficult to stay to the end.

Theatrical Trailer : Suspect

    This is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and runs for 1:37. It is of very poor video quality and has an amazing amount of telecine wobble present. It is a good trailer for the film. It is interesting to see where they have used cuts from the film in a completely different context.

Theatrical Trailer : And Justice For All

    Presented at 1.85:1 and not 16x9 enhanced it is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and runs for 2:19. The video is quite reasonable on this trailer, particularly in comparison with the other trailers.

Theatrical Trailer : Absence of Malice

    This trailer is presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This runs for 2:02. The video quality on this one is shocking.

Theatrical Trailer : Devil In A Blue Dress

    Presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio track This trailer runs for 2:29. The video quality is slightly better than the last one but not by much.

Filmographies

    The cast, director and writer's film credits in a series of static pages with picture backgrounds.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Unless you speak one of the missing languages, and not having personally seen the Region 1 transfer, I am going to call this one a draw.

Summary

    Great performances by all involved make Suspect one of the better examples of courtroom drama. The drama and tension builds towards an ending that is hard to pick, but great fun to try and predict.

    The video could have been sharper - the addition of edge enhancement did not help.

    The audio is front-heavy but not bad.

    The extras consist of a commentary that is not the best, and a collection of trailers for films that are in a similar vein.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Thursday, December 20, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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