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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Based on a true story

Above Suspicion (2019) on IMDb

Plot Overview

accountant at deskIn 1988 file clerk turned G-man Mark Putnam (Jack Huston) is gung ho over his first assignment in back­water Pike­ville, Kentucky. He soon recruits a confidential informant Susan Smith (Emilia Clarke) who thinks he's her ticket out of there. Since the film is narrated by her from the grave, it's a safe bet things did not go her way. The tenor of the story is like that in a David Housewright tale where:

“as far as I was concerned, … ghosts and messages from the dead were the stuff of horror movies like The Dead Zone and The Sixth Sense and The conjuring.”

“Don't forget Hamlet.”

Hamlet? That's right. The king comes back from the dead and orders his son to wreak vengeance upon his uncle Claudius for killing him, seizing his throne, and marrying his wife, Gertrude, who was also Hamlet's mother.”

Jesus, you're living a Shakespeare play. (107)

This story runs like a Shakespeare drama where there's a poor town, and in it a central church, some drinking establishments, a drug business, betrayals, welfare fraud, failed parenting, bumbling cops, infidelity, and FBI Simony.


Especially because this movie is based on a true story, it provides a sobering case of trouble best avoided. (Prov. 7:1-5) “My son, keep my words, and lay up my command­ments with thee. Keep my command­ments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call under­standing thy kins­woman: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.” Mark violated the first rule of the FBI: “Never sleep with your informant,” which he wishes some­one would have told him about. It's best to familiarize one­self with all those good rules, to be intimately conversant with them, as if they were your sis or kin. Susan's sister Jolene (Thora Birch) was a model of wisdom looking out for her best interests, trying to talk sense into her.

(Prov. 7:6-18) “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of under­standing, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. There­fore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.”

Church serviceSusan was always dressed attractively, never a slob, and when she found her mark, she pursued him brazenly. She even attended church to make it seem like it was right with God, what she suggested. They met secretly, she kissed him for encourage­ment (“You deserve a reward,”) and she made it seem like making love to her would be the cat's meow.

(Prov. 7:19) “For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey.” She distanced her­self from her ex-husband so Mark would feel free to move in on her. (Prov. 7:20) “He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.” She offered Mark financial incentive, that her leads would result in him getting promoted down the line. She her­self was wanting to cash in on rehab and witness protection.

(Prov. 7:21-27) “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straight­way, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. Hearken unto me now there­fore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.”

Kaboom!The proverb offers a couple examples of how such a liaison with the floozy will work out: A fool continues his behavior until he's caught and put in chains—also like an ox lumbering to the slaughter,—and an over­confident bird flies high until it's ensnared. In this movie we see a bank robber Joe-Bea Reevis (Karl Glusman) whose take in these poor parts is so puny that he must rob several banks to reach his goal, but eventually to be caught. And some miscreants set about to throw a Molotov cocktail into the broken window of an FBI agent's house while bliss­fully unaware that his vigilant wife Kathy (Sophie Lowe) has awakened her armed husband. Mark will continue the affair until it catches up with him, and he shouldn't count on his wife not knowing either.

Production Values

” (2019) was directed by Phillip Noyce. Its screenplay was written by Chris Gerolmo, based on the book by Joe Sharkey. It stars Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston, and Sophie Lowe. All the actors did well except for those portraying the lawmen who didn't have much verve. Clarke pulls off a credible Kentucky accent—think Mary of Peter, Paul & M

MPAA rated it R for sexual content and drug use through­out, language and some strong violence. The setting was realistic, the music unobtrusive, and the camera work phenomenal.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

Movies based on true stories are handicapped by the very facts they screen, and this one is no different. Except for the righteous sister, all the role models were negative ones: The sheriff deputy was averse to risk, his captain was coasting into retirement, the FBI guy was self-centered, and his replace­ment was “Fat Bob” (Kevin Dunn.) The low-life denizens of the town are not worth mentioning. The children were lazy video game addicts. The women were bitchy, and the one getting a perm would see a better return on some weight loss. Yet for all that there was a strong negative message of what not to do.

The story was sleazy, but it was ameliorated by a building suspense, a photogenic leading lady, and a versatile cameraman. I give it average marks, and I don't think this sad little tale set in a dump could have been improved much by any tricks of the trade. See it for its poignant lesson.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Amazing camera work. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Housewright, David. From the Grave. Copyright © 2020 by David Housewright. New York: Minotaur Books, 2020. Print.