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Wither Cher? Once one of the most popular singers and actresses in Hollywood, she seems to have fallen off the map, but for the occasional HBO concert film. Her decline arguably can be keyed to the release of the indifferent thriller Suspect from 1987. Yet Cher shows a certain actorial competence here, suggesting that if she had not become a world-famous singer, she might have had a more than adequate career as a mid-level movie star in the Rosalind Russell mode. In Suspect she plays Kathleen Riley, a public defender who is handed the case of Carl Wayne Anderson (Liam Neeson, in an early movie role after many years in British television movies). He is accused of killing the secretary of a judge, who himself recently committed suicide. Riley soon learns that Anderson is a deaf Vietnam vet, but her attempt to defend him is impeded by an ambitious prosecutor (Joe Mantegna) and a cruel hanging judge (John Mahoney). Into this mix comes Eddie Sanger (Dennis Quaid), a lobbyist who is not above sleeping with a senator in order to get a vote for his client. He finds himself doing jury duty and ends up on the Anderson trial. But he can't mind his own business and begins investigating the case during his off-hours, and then feeding info to a resistant Riley. Naturally, they fall for each other — but Riley is also in danger from the real killer. Suspect wasn't much of a box-office hit, and it's not hard to see why — though the movie begins very well, with realistic sequences in the courtroom and beyond, eventually it devolves into yet another chase thriller, with Cher fleeing the baddie through the darkened halls of an abandoned building. Nevertheless, the movie does have a few early performances from now-notable actors Neeson and Mahoney to recommend it. Columbia TriStar's DVD edition of Suspect features both anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and pan-and-scan transfers on opposite sides of the disc, with audio in the original Dolby 2.0 Surround. Director Peter Yates offers an audio commentary that is chatty and informative. Other supplements include the theatrical trailer, talent files, and production notes. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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