Varese Sarabande Club CD
17 Tracks/Disc Time: 38:32
In 1987, what seemed to be a rather small courtroom thriller was released that not only feature a popular singer/actress who was making major waves after winning an Oscar for a renowed comedy, a major star in the making and another star that would be one of the more sought after action stars for the last decade and thensome. "Suspect" which was directed by acclaimed British director Peter Yates ("Bullitt") stars Cher as Public Defender Kathleen Riley, who's been assigned the defend a homeless deaf mute named Carl Wayne Anderson (Liam Neeson, "Taken 1 & 2", "Batman Begins") who was arrested for the murder of a secretary of a prominant judge who had just committed suicide. As she digs deeper into the case finding discrepencies, Kathleen gets some unexpected help from a juror, who also happens to be a Washington D.C. lobbyist named Eddie Sanger (Dennis Quaid, "Day After Tomorrow", "Traffic") who starts to help her put the pieces together and prove Anderson innocent leading to a major corruption in a rather unexpected place. Written with tight knit suspense by acclaimed screenwriter Eric Roth ("Forrest Gump", "The Insider") the film was a minor hit and a very underrated thriller featuring excellent performances all around including Criminal Minds' star Joe Mantegna as Cher's rival prosecutor.
While the actors on screen were doing a very solid job driving the story along with the excellent direction of Peter Yates, the final element to add the extra layer of suspense in "Suspect" is the work of the late Michael Kamen, who earlier that year scored what would the score that would the big breakout score of his career in "Lethal Weapon" that would lead to big action hits such as "Die Hard", "License To Kill", "Road House", "Die Hard 2", "Lethal Weapon 2" and "Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves" years later. Following a somewhat similar thriller in Ridley Scott's "Someone To Watch Over Me", "Suspect" would feature Kamen writing a tense, suspense score that would eventually evolve into the thrilling music for the "Die Hard" films featuring plucking and aggressive string work and bass. Starting from the films and the albums' opening track "Main Title" immediately sets the mood and tone of the score for the film throughout with plucking strings, harsh brass wails and rumbling percussion.
The rest of the score pretty much take its' lead developing both mood and atmosphere utilizing the opening theme as much as possible. Both"Help Me" and "Private Eye" exhibit a little bit of the future sound for "Die Hard" with plucking strings and bass rumbles as "Cufflink/Michael" establishes even more of that sound with moody suspense as an important piece of information is found by one of the main characters in the film. "The Cells" is the highlight of the score and the album, a brooding piece of suspense that just keeps building and building tension with each layer of string work building and topping itself while moody percussion effects including a harp back them up as the track goes along to a thrilling, blood curdling finale. "The Courtroom" is essentially the finale to the score that is the major reveal in the film (which I will not give away) with Kamen scoring it with a subtle tone unlike the rest of the score with an airy sense of relief with bright strings and woodwinds. "End Credits" is the proper closing of the score that reprises the main theme of the score to a positive resolution.
Originally issued by the label on LP, cassette and a very limited production run of CD's by Varese in 1987, the album is now enjoying a solid reissue after being out of print for over two decades and going for high prices on the secondary market. The score is very good for what it is, which is a tight suspense and tension filled atmosphere that really does everything it is supposed to do very effectively. There's no surprises with this score and it's no wonder that Producer Joel Silver wanted him to score "Die Hard" in an almost similar fashion, except that that score was more broad in scope. The ground work is really layed on here and it really is great to see this score being rediscovered again because it is very good. "Suspect" is a good old fashioned orchestrial suspense score that ramps up the tension for the film and outside of it, a very solid example of how a suspense score should sound like especially if you're trying to emulate Hitchcock like this film was almost daring to do. Very solid thumbs up.