14 April 2015
The movie starts out in a small southern rural town of Midland with Sheriff Dixon listening to the radio as it talks about how Carolina Credit and Trust Bank had been robbed earlier that day in the all-white town. The suspect happens to be a college professor running a social experiment on the racial dynamics and bias in small town law enforcement. In the experiment Mekhi Phifer and Sterling K. Brown play the roles of the social scientists running a high leveled participant observation experiment. William Sadler plays the role of Sheriff Dixon. Derek Roché plays the role of Deputy Riley who is Sheriff Dixon’s sidekick throughout the movie.
In the experiment one of the social scientists robs the bank to convince the people of the town that the experiment is real. The other one looks at real estate in the area and digs in the dirt to dirty up his pants then walks along the road stating that somebody must have stolen his car or it had been towed. Phifer was seen walking along an isolated road and immediately became a person of interest. Sheriff Dixon arrives to the police station and starts to interrogate Phifer. Phifer can be seen deliberately encouraging a line of questioning that would substantiate the professors’ hypothesis that bias exists.
It then goes to show a week prior to this event taking place where the roles are reversed between Phifer and Brown in another rural town. In this town Brown is referred to as “boy,” when being interrogated. The police department in each of these towns record the interrogation process. At a certain time Phifer shows up to the police department with the bag of money that was stolen from the bank earlier that day. They explain the whole experiment to the police department they were dealing with. Phifer and Brown explain how they work with local, state, and federal law enforcement in this experiment and give the department a check for “opportunity cost.” This consists of costs for man power, tires, gas, time, and etcetera. The police department then receives a call from Kersands University that Phifer and Brown are indeed doing research for them to back their story. In a particular town the sheriff was so upset that he refused to hand over the tape of the interrogation process forcing them to repeat the experiment.
The movie then flashes back to the current time where they are in Midland and Phifer is the suspect. Sheriff Dixon doesn’t have any evidence that it was Phifer that robbed in the bank. Sheriff Dixon’s daughter then asks him why he’s holding Phifer in a jail cell for no reason other than the color of his skin being black. Brown is on his way to the police department where they are holding Phifer when he stops at a gas station and encounters a white couple. This couple takes offense to Brown locking his car doors before entering the store so they decide to slash his tires. Brown returns to the vehicle and drives off not knowing that he will run his car off a cliff down the road due to this. Phifer suspects something has gone wrong so is forced to explain the experiment alone to the Midland police department. They doubt his story. He figured they would so he then explains how he buried an “insurance policy” at the real estate he had been looking at earlier that day.
Another flash back occurs to a month earlier, where Phifer and Brown are at Kersands University. Brown is seen supervising a psychological experiment. Phifer shows Brown a slideshow explaining that he needs $300,000 dollars for something but never really goes into depth about what it is besides that he can obtain it through the black market. They both then go to the Bronx, New York to get that amount of money in counterfeit to launder the money. These two highly intelligent sociologists have been running a scheme this whole time, because they have been pocketing the real money and returning the counterfeit money.
It returns back to the current time where...
Cited: The Suspect. Dir. Stuart Connelly. Perf. Mekhi Phifer, William Sadler, Sterling K. Brown, Derek Roché. 2013. Netflix.
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