First, a U.S. Supreme Court justice commits suicide. Then, police find the body of his murdered clerk in the Potomac River. The Washington police quickly pounce on a suspect—Carl Wayne Anderson (Liam Neeson), a homeless man who refuses to speak. Assigned to his case as a public defender, Kathleen Riley (Cher) discovers that Anderson is a deaf-mute Vietnam veteran who has fallen on hard times. Despite the incriminating evidence, she is convinced of his innocence. With the illicit help of juror Eddie Sanger (Dennis Quaid), a lobbyist who knows his way around town, she gathers information that points to a different murderer. But the creators of Suspect make his identity too easy to deduce. Destroying the element of suspense, director Peter Yates (The Dresser) and screenwriter Eric Roth leave a thriller afflicted with anemia.
Predictably, Riley and Sanger become romantically involved, but their liaison fails to burn a hole in the screen. Cher avails herself of two expressions—fatigue and stunned surprise. Apart from raising the nightmarish prospect of being defended in court by Cher, Suspect leaves the viewer wishing for an adjournment.
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