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Apple TV+'s Suspicion is a thriller that is as forgettable as they come

  • "Suspicion is broadly competent, in that the dialogue is serviceable, the performances unobjectionable (though those watching for (Uma) Thurman should be warned she’s barely in it at all), the narrative easy enough to follow. Occasionally, it serves up some thoughtful stylistic touches," says Angie Han. "The copious use of security-cam footage serves as a chilling reminder that the mere act of surveilling someone can make them look shady, even if they’re not doing anything stranger than fidgeting in an uncomfortable bus seat. For those armed with lots of time, lots of patience and a burning curiosity to resolve the mystery, all that might be enough to sustain them through the eight-episode season. But the show’s insistence on playing its secrets so close to the vest ultimately works against it. The suspects aren’t just mysterious but inscrutable, making them difficult to care about....Suspicion takes its sweet time revealing the larger themes it’s working toward, only to fumble by groping around for too many of them at once. The series’ approach to these ideas is best exemplified by the public reaction to the kidnapping, which is both overwhelming and ill-defined. No one but the kidnappers has the faintest idea what 'the truth' could even be referring to, and yet people start taking to the streets to protest Katherine. At least that one episode of Black Mirror about the prime minister fucking a pig captured some of the troll-y spirit of internet discourse. Suspicion just offers the vague idea that movements are about people wanting to be heard."


    • Uma Thurman is essentially a guest-star on what amounts to an aggressively average thriller: "Apple TV+’s Suspicion is, at best, a middling thriller that at least wraps up its many mysteries in a (stretched) eight-episode season," says Saloni Gajjar. "At worst, the drama criminally underuses its most memorable actor. Uma Thurman is marketed as the lead, but she appears so sporadically, she might as well be billed as a guest star. Her absence is sorely felt, because the rest of the cast is hardly a standout, which is oddly in line with the subpar narrative itself. Thurman is saddled with playing non-emotive, rigid CEO Katherine Newman. She runs an elite PR agency, akin to Olivia Pope’s in Scandal, that helps clean up the messes of the wealthy and corrupt. Her son, Leo (Gerran Howell), is kidnapped from a New York City hotel by a group that’s wearing masks of the Royal Family members. A few days later, four seemingly ordinary, non-connected British citizens are arrested for the crime. Suspicion is mainly structured around their mission to prove they are being wrongly accused."
    • Suspicion is convinced of its own cleverness and righteousness, but very little over the course of its eight episodes provides any evidence for either: "The series... is the latest in Apple TV+’s relationship with Israeli productions (following Tehran and Losing Alice), and is loosely inspired by the Israeli TV series False Flag, in which five Israeli citizens are accused of kidnapping an Iranian government official," says Roxana Hadidi. "Showrunner Rob Williams sloughs off that specifically geopolitical angle in Suspicion, and instead builds mystery around a group of Brits who are accused of kidnapping the son of an American media mogul. Without the decades-long tension that exists between those at-odds nations, this version of Suspicion instead asks grander questions about truth and lies, corruption and complicity — and answers with consistently facile suggestions about how we can better the world. 'What if people were just honest?' the show has characters ask in various arrangements, as if “the truth” is something upon which billions of people would agree. 'What if the rich grew a conscience because the rest of us asked them to?' it wonders, as if Mr. Robot didn’t spend four exceptional seasons inspecting the murky ramifications of disrupting power structures, standing against the wealthy, and interrupting linear time. Suspicion really thinks it is doing something with the 'tell the truth' slogan chanted by protestors in the series’s back half, but the resulting atmosphere is one of unrelenting condescension from the show’s creators toward the people watching it... Suspicion seems to think that digging into important topics alone is enough to make for good entertainment, forgetting that well-rounded characters, believable relationships, and compelling dialogue are also required. But the series puts all that on the back burner as it goes through genre motions, obfuscating motivations in a way that dampens interest instead of generating it and making most of its characters — whether 'good' or 'bad' — surprisingly passive."
    • Suspicion is a loose, baggy thing that only begins to approach the necessary slickness a good quarter of the way through its eight-episode run: "It starts with a dramatically squandered kidnap. In the corridor of a New York hotel, a young man is quietly nabbed by three figures, wearing replica masks of the royal family, and unobtrusively stuffed in a suitcase – so unobtrusively that I didn’t notice until a second viewing – and wheeled out," says Lucy Mangan. "He, we eventually learn, is Leo Newman, the student son of Katherine Newman, head of one of the world’s most influential communications companies and controversial nominee for a UK ambassadorship, possibly the two positions least likely to inculcate any feeling of fondness for a character. She is played by Uma Thurman, who appears so fleetingly that the PR team who made her role headline news deserve a special award for chutzpah."
    • Suspicion seems not to know what it has on its hands: "While it’s competently made and will divert viewers who are mystery fans, it takes far too long to get truly curious about what spurred the crime at its center, or how a powerful person connects to it," says Daniel D'Addario. "The desire to conceal elements of a mystery has resulted in a story that isn’t much of a story at all."
    • Suspicion is full of dated conspiracy thriller tropes: "Every aspect of the production—wardrobe, dialogue, score, direction, cinematography—frequently comes off as the efforts of an AI program that has been fed the Jason Bourne and Mission: Impossible franchises," says Nandini Balial. "Both those series of films offer brisk writing, terrific direction, and, most importantly, charismatic performances. The creators of Suspicion are using conspiracy thriller tropes so dated I began to wonder whether the show is actually meant to be set in the early aughts. A dull synth and bass-heavy background score—provided by Gilad Benamram, who previously worked on Fauda—cannot serve as a substitute for a quality plot."
    • Uma Thurman needs to be rescued from appearing in bad shows: "Cast as the mysterious mother of the kidnapped boy, she’s plastered all over Suspicion’s posters but seems to have filmed her few scenes in a day," says Noah White. "Noah Emmerich, one of America’s most unsung character actors, looks set to do more as an FBI agent transferred to London to investigate our suspects, but then spends much of the action staring at computer screens. The biggest mystery in Suspicion is why it’s asked two brilliant US actors to perform back-up to a cluster of not-very-good Brits."

    TOPICS: Suspicion, Apple TV+, Uma Thurman