Above Suspicion

DIGITAL REVIEW:

Theatrical, Digital and VOD 5/7/21;
Disc Street Date 5/18/21;
Lionsgate;
Drama;
$19.98 DVD, $21.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for sexual content and drug use throughout, language and some strong violence.
Stars Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston, Sophie Lowe, Austin Hébert, Karl Glusman, Chris Mulkey, Omar Miller, Kevin Dunn, Thora Birch, Johnny Knoxville.

The circumstances surrounding the first FBI agent convicted of murder are explored in Above Suspicion, a rudimentary crime thriller more interested in illicit intrigue than character study.

Emilia Clarke of “Game of Thrones” stars as Susan Smith, who begins the story with “American Beauty”-style narration informing the audience that she’s dead. The film is based on the true story of her involvement with Mark Putnam (Jack Huston), an up-and-coming FBI agent looking to take down a criminal ring in a small town in Kentucky in the late 1980s.

He recruits Susan as an informant, since her former husband (Johnny Knoxville) is one of the major drug dealers in the town. She takes the gig partly because she needs the money he pays out for tips on criminal activity, but also because she’s enamored with his clean-cut image and his seemingly perfect family life. They begin a sexual affair with ultimately tragic consequences when she can’t accept being little more than a white trash fling for him.

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The film has its moments, particularly when Clarke ramps up the sex appeal, but the details surrounding Putnam’s case and how he ends up roping Susan into it are somewhat muddled for the expediency of getting to their love affair — which is, admittedly, the film’s primary selling point.

The movie has some filmmaking pedigree behind it, having been directed by Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger) and penned by Chris Gerolmo, Golden Globe nominated screenwriter of Mississippi Burning. First announced in 2016, the film has been finished since 2018 and awaiting a wide release, after a few showings in 2019.

Lionsgate Releasing Crime Thriller ‘Above Suspicion’ in May

Lionsgate will release the crime thriller Above Suspicion in select theaters, on VOD and via digital sellthrough May 7, followed by a Blu-ray Disc and DVD release May 18.

Directed by Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger) and written by Chris Gerolmo (Mississippi Burning), the film is based on the true story of one of the most notorious crimes in FBI history. Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) stars as Susan Smith, a young woman desperate to escape a seedy life of crime and drugs in a Kentucky coal mining town. When a newly minted FBI agent named Mark Putnam (Jack Huston, “Boardwalk Empire”) recruits Susan as his informant for a high-profile case, she believes her bad luck may finally be changing. But as Susan and Putnam’s relationship deepens, so does the danger, setting them both on a collision course with deadly consequences.

The cast also includes Sophie Lowe, Austin Hébert, Karl Glusman, Chris Mulkey, Omar Miller, Kevin Dunn, Thora Birch and Johnny Knoxville.

The film is rated ‘R’ for sexual content and drug use throughout, language and some strong violence.

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Action Point

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Paramount;
Comedy;
Box Office $5.06 million;
$18.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo pack;
Rated ‘R’ for crude sexual content, language, drug use, teen drinking, and brief graphic nudity.
Stars Johnny Knoxville, Chris Pontius, Eleanor Worthington Cox, Dan Bakkedahl, Johnny Pemberton, Joshua Hoover, Brigette Lundy-Paine.

The raunchy Action Point is inspired by a real-life New Jersey amusement park from the 1970s and ’80s called Action Park, which earned a reputation for its poor safety record and dangerous attractions. With its thrill rides, water park and beer garden — combined with an apathetic staff and lax supervision — Action Park became a popular hangout for New York-area teens. After countless injuries and a handful of deaths, Action Park eventually closed in 1996 after it was forced to clean up its act as a result of several lawsuits (though there was an attempt to revive the brand in 2014).

Using the park’s troubled history as the backdrop for a Johnny Knoxville vehicle seems like a natural fit. However, the end result comes across like a low-rent “Jackass” movie, using a paper-thin plot as an excuse for any number of bone-crunching stunts and gags involving bodily functions. Fortunately, the film’s sparse 84-minute running time doesn’t give the filmmakers much time to belabor the point even as the story is dragged to the finish line.

Playing like a cross between Bad Grandpa and an Adam Sandler movie, Knoxville plays D.C., who owned the park in the ’70s and dawns old-age makeup in scenes set in the present day so he can tell his granddaughter about the park (and throw in some sight gags about old people).

Action Point is dusty, run down and a money-losing magnet for degenerates, prompting a local real-estate mogul representing the area’s larger, safer theme park to offer to buy it from D.C. and tear it down. Intent on rejecting the offer, D.C., his daughter and a handful of the park’s loyal guests unite to try to find the money to keep the park open.

The movie is dumb and it knows it, offering pretty much exactly what one would expect from merging Knoxville with the amusement park premise, resulting in a nihilistic affair that treats its subject matter with no reverence but does offer some heartfelt sentiment in the strained relationship between D.C. and his daughter. The story offers a few good laughs but most of the comedy relies purely on shock value; in other words, fans of watching Knoxville do dumb stuff on camera should eat it up.

The depiction of the amusement park (built from scratch on an empty lot in South Africa) might make the film a curio for anyone familiar with its real-life counterpart. Honestly, however, none of it is as interesting as the average YouTube video about the real-life Action Park.

The Blu-ray offers about 20 minutes of featurettes and another 12 minutes of deleted scenes. There’s also a two-minute blooper reel.

In the four-minute “Anarchy in the Amusement Park,” featurette, the filmmakers actually discuss the real Action Park and how they went about re-creating it in spirit for the film.

The five-minute “Old School, Bone-Crunching Stunts” focuses on Knoxville getting banged around for his art (he has said he was injured more on this film than the totality of the rest of his career).

The seven-and-a-half-minute “Benny and the Sh*tbirds” looks at the film’s supporting cast, while the four-and-a-half-minute “Drinking Beer with Grizzly Bears” delves into the process of filming with wild animals (including a bear, monkey, crocodile, raccoon and others used to populate the park’s ersatz petting zoo).

The deleted and extended scenes mostly show off a few gags not used in the movie or scenes that set up the jokes that did make it into the film.

Paramount Slates ‘Action Point’ for August Home Video Release

Paramount Home Media Distribution will release the comedy Action Point digitally Aug. 14 and as a Blu-ray combo pack with DVD and digital copy Aug. 21.

The movie stars Johnny Knoxville as the proprietor of an out-of-control amusement park where the rides are not designed with safety in mind. When a slimy developer schemes to shut down the park, the Action Point team will engage in a series of jaw-dropping gags and bone-crushing stunts in an effort to save the park.

Action Point is inspired by the true story of New Jersey’s Action Park, an amusement and water park notorious for its poor safety record that was the focus of the documentary The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever.

Extras include deleted and extended scenes, bloopers, and the featurettes “Benny and the Sh*tbirds,” “Anarchy in the Amusement Park,” “Old School, Bone-Crunching Stunts” and “Drinking Beer With Grizzly Bears.”