Writer-director Simon Moore makes a stylish bow with Under Suspicion, an old-fashioned murder mystery flawed by wobbly playing from Irish actor Liam Neeson.
Tense prolog, set in Brighton, 1957, has a cop (Neeson) caught with his pants down with the wife (Maggie O’Neill) of a gangster he’s trailing. Two years later, Neeson is a down-at-the-heels private investigator arranging phoney divorce evidence. O’Neill, now his wife, poses as the other woman in hotel setups to get photographic court evidence. During one of these setups, she ends up with her brain splattered on the sheets next to an equally dead client.
Enter the hotel stiff’s mysterious American mistress (Laura San Giacomo) who quickly heads the police list of suspects. She hires Neeson to investigate her lover’s murder.
Pic plays like a loving tribute to every film noir in the book. But despite vague parallels to Fritz Lang’s Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, it’s more like a rainy-day Brit cross between Jagged ed ge and Body Heat. Former TV scripter Moore, keeps the dialog taut and the red herrings coming, but he skimps on electricity between the two leads. Production design is polished, exactly catching the story’s setting on the borderline of the more liberated 1960s.