First look UK TV review: Suspicion
Ivan Radford | On 04, Feb 2022
“I’ll just ask him to tell the truth.” “The truth? That’s a big word.” That’s detective Vanessa Okoye (Angel Coulby) and FBI agent Scott Anderson (Noah Emmerich) as they prepare to grill a suspect in Suspicion, a new eight-part series from Apple TV+. It’s the kind of playfully antagonistic exchange you can find in any espionage thriller – and it’s also as complex and deep as Suspicion gets.
The series begins with a lot of intriguing promise, as we see Leo Newman (Gerran Howell) kidnapped in a New York hotel. His mother, we soon discover, is marketing executive Katherine Newman (Uma Thurman), and his kidnappers release a sinister video message demanding that she “tell the truth” about something secretive in her past. What we also soon discover is that not only is this “truth” frustratingly elusive, but also that Uma Thurman is barely in the programme at all.
Instead, we spend our time following the suspects being pursued by Vanessa and Scott. There’s academic sort Tara (Elizabeth Henstridge), finance guru Natalie (Georgina Campbell) and cybersecurity whizz Aadesh (Kunal Nayyar), all of whom have various problems involving money that makes them look just suspicious enough to the authorities. And then there’s generic villain Sean (Elyes Gabel), whose job is to walk around looking suspicious but with disguises too sophisticated for the authorities to notice. We first meet Sean on a plane where he puts on a wig and some glasses before sneaking by passport control, despite looking essentially the same – and it’s at this point, regardless of the sinister soundtrack telling us otherwise, that you begin to suspect that Suspicion might not be as exciting as it thinks.
The series is based on the Israeli TV series False Flag and arrives hot on the heels of Israeli thriller Tehran, another Apple TV+ exclusive. But where Tehran moves at a pace with a slick confidence through a web of smart, complex tensions, Suspicion feels sluggish and underdeveloped. Without the original series’ unique backdrop, showrunner Rob Williams does his best to tap into timely concerns of corruption, finance, moral compromises and conspiracies, but only ends up in disappointingly generic territory. At the same time, the ensemble of possible suspects never get the chance to become fully rounded characters – something of a paradox, given the fact that the plot isn’t in a hurry to move anywhere.
And so it falls to the cast to keep our attention. While the always-excellent Noah Emmerich is very watchable as a dogged but weary FBI agent, he’s left to shoulder the brunt of the narrative weight, while star billing Uma Thurman remains conspicuously absent until the fourth episode, which leaves us without any emotional stakes in Leo’s kidnapping, let alone any teasing glimpse of what her big secret is. By the time Katherine Newman does turn up, the truth is that most viewers will have lost interest.
Suspicion is available on Apple TV+, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription, with a seven-day free trial. For more information on Apple TV+ and how to get it, click here.