Friday, February 04, 2022

Suspicion, on Apple TV+

Point Break had its “Ex-Presidents” gang that held up banks wearing presidential masks. This series has its “Royal” kidnappers, who abduct the son of a PR tycoon wearing British royal family masks. Point Break was superior in every way possible. Sadly, the kidnappers become cult-heroes for an angry, economically-illiterate generation who would protest anything social media told them to. Of course, that is believable, but awfully depressing. To make matters worse, the ostensible thriller elements are tediously boring in showrunner Rob Williams’ eight-episode Suspicion (based on the Israeli series False Flag), which premieres today on Apple TV+.

Poor Leo Newman got stuffed into a suitcase on CCTV just when his wheeler-dealer mom Katherine was poised to be nominated the American ambassador to the UK. Then the criminals released the footage, which promptly went viral, along with their ransom demand: “tell the truth.” Initially, the distraught Newman assumes they mean the dirty not-so-secret fact her appointment stemmed from her political donations. (For those of us here in reality, ambassadors to the Court of St. James are almost required to be well-heeled, in order to offset some of the embassy’s high entertainment costs.) Regardless, the criminals apparently have something else in mind.

The good news for FBI Special Agent Scott Anderson and his British counterpart, NCA Agent Vanessa Okoye is that they have five suspects. One is Sean Tilson a known specialist in dirty work. The other four look like average, normal British subjects, but they happened to be in the fateful hotel on the day of Newman’s abduction and have tenuous links to Newman’s company. Naturally, they decide the best thing they could do would be to all get together and act suspicious together. You know they have a title to live up to.

In the middle episodes, suspicion temporarily falls on all of them, one by one, only to be “cleared” shortly after. Of course, they are all guilty of something that got them into this mess in the first place. Most of them are also guilty of being annoying.

In fact, the whole thing is terribly anticlimactic, because Newman’s big secret is dull as dishwater. Frankly, it feels like the entire show was reverse-engineered to deliver us to its big environmental talking point—and poorly so. However, it is inadvertently effective at showing how frighteningly demented both the true believer mentality and the violent tendencies of rioting masses can be.

Truly, Okoye and Anderson, played with some grit by Angel Coulby and Noah Emmerich, are the only characters who are not a chore to spend time with. Uma Thurman raises expectations as Katherine Newman, but the poor dialog she is stuck with promptly dashes them. Honestly, a woman of her strength of will would never say such stupid things in public, or anywhere—but obviously she needs to say them to fulfill the show’s cathartic leftwing fantasies.

Most of our suspects are cardboard cutouts, but at least Elizabeth Henstridge is mildly diverting as leftwing (who isn’t in this series) university instructor Tara McAllister, at least when her character tries to be sexually shocking for effect. Ironically, probably the most interesting character, by
Suspicion’s standards is Martin Copeland, Newman’s ambiguously shady righthand man, played by Robert Glenister.

Viewers who are not totally zonked out on Nyquil will totally guess the show’s ultimate secret within fifteen minutes (we sure did). Getting to that inevitable point isn’t a heck of a lot of fun. Not recommended,
Suspicion starts streaming today (2/4) on Apple TV+.