The Apple TV Plus thriller is aggressively average

Tom Rhys Harries, Kunal Nayyar, Georgina Campbell, Elizabeth Henstridge in Suspicion

Tom Rhys Harries, Kunal Nayyar, Georgina Campbell, Elizabeth Henstridge in Suspicion
Photo: AppleTV+

AppleTV+ Suspicion is, at best, a mediocre thriller that at least solves its many mysteries in a (stretched) eight-episode season. At worst, the drama criminally underutilizes its most memorable actor. Uma Thurman is marketed as a star, but she appears so sporadically that she might as well be featured as a guest star. Its absence is sorely felt, as the rest of the cast is hardly remarkable, which is oddly in keeping with the mediocre narrative itself.

Thurman grapples with the role of Katherine Newman, an unemotional and rigid CEO. She runs an elite public relations agency, similar to that of Olivia Pope in Scandal, which helps clean up the mess of the rich and corrupt. Her son, Leo (Gerran Howell), is kidnapped from a New York hotel by a group wearing royal family masks. Days later, four seemingly ordinary, unconnected British citizens are arrested for the crime. Suspicion is mostly structured around their mission to prove that they are wrongly accused.

The premise and direction by Chris Long have great potential, but the show starts to run out of steam pretty quickly due to a monotonous pace. The first four episodes are particularly repetitive in the way they set up the interrogation of the main suspects, led by London police inspector Vanessa Okoye (Angel Coulby) and Noah Emmerich’s FBI agent Stan Beeman, sorry, Scott Anderson. Much like Thurman, Emmerich is unfortunately stuck with a one-note character. Coulby, on the other hand, shines with limited hardware.

Many visuals are dedicated to surveillance footage and spy footage via security cameras across the city. The focus on camera technology and interrogation methods is reminiscent of two other British thrillers, Peacock’s Capturing and those of Netflix Criminal. Here again, Suspicion is not an original idea in the first place, because it is based on an Israeli drama false flag.

While audiences can support the series’ initial exploration, the momentum picks up in the second half as the accused unrelated Britons are finally forced to fight for their lives. Failed computer expert Aadesh Chopra (Kunal Nayyar), University of Oxford researcher and professor Tara McAllister (Elizabeth Henstridge), banking financier Natalie Thompson (Georgina Campbell), and fellow Oxford student Leo Eddie Walker (Tom Rhys Harries) team up to prove their innocence. They enlist the help of hitman Sean Tilson (Elyes Gabel), who is suspected to be the leader of the kidnapping ring.

It turns out that all five of them were staying at the same hotel in Manhattan when Leo was abducted. They also have unexpected ties to Katherine’s PR firm, whether through a job application, protests, or possible embezzlement. Aadesh, Tara, Natalie, Eddie and Sean are racing against time and evading the cops in all the usual ways: hiding in shady places, lying to loved ones, using disguises.

Lydia West and Georgina Campbell in Suspicion

Lydia West and Georgina Campbell in Suspicion
Photo: AppleTV+

Despite its predictability, the show finds its place through surprising emotional connections. Disparate characters like Aadesh and Eddie form a believable friendship and Tara and Sean an obvious sexual attraction, and Suspicion also delves into their family life. Aadesh’s frayed relationship with his wife Sonia (Mandip Gill) and Natalie’s secrets revealed to her sister Monique (Lydia West) put the secondary characters in the limelight. Gill and West are great, but the latter is an escape once Monique becomes more involved in the core group.

Suspicion would be mindless boredom without the dark moments shared between the various characters – and even those interactions come way too late. Natalie and Tara are the most fleshed out, and thankfully Henstridge and Campbell’s performances are up to snuff, as they’re the only two actors who make any kind of impression. Nayyar’s attempt to venture away from The Big Bang Theory‘s Rajesh as the perpetually verklempt, heavily bearded Aadesh works for the most part, even when the writing doesn’t support it.

As the series slowly unveils who is involved in the kidnapping, and to what extent, it ticks all the boxes for thriller tropes. There are red herrings, cliffhanger twists, shocking stories, deaths. The downside here is that the final reveals are too muted. Suspicion doesn’t spend time making viewers care about Leo or Katherine, so the whole mission feels very inexpensive. There are minimal levels of intrigue, and fans of the genre might even enjoy the ride, but Suspicion has nothing to offer other than a medium suspense story.

About Franklin Cheatham

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