|Reviews & Columns
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
Prime Suspect 3
The film itself, one of the toughest in the series, finds Helen Mirren's continually impressive Jane Tennison taking up residence as head of the vice squad, which is in the midst of a not-very-effective investigation into the world of child prostitution. It takes Tennison's passionate leadership to really peel back the layers of grime and find out what's truly going on in this particular shady underworld.
The starting point is a fire in the apartment of a female impersonator (Peter Capaldi as the exceedingly fragile Vera). In the ashes of the fire investigators find the remains of a "rent boy," an adolescent caught up in this incredibly ugly world. Tennison's investigation into this crime (and the people that flutter around it) is made extra difficult by the transient nature of the suspects and by the constant interference she feels from within the force. There's clearly a cover-up going on that makes it impossible to simply blame the scumbags on the street. Tennison, as usual, is faced with insurmountable odds and struggles and claws through to find the truth.
As with the previous installments, there's nothing Hollywood about Prime Suspect 3. There's no corny action-cop sequence or big "eureka!" moment. Mirren really lets you appreciate the blood and sweat that goes into an unpleasant investigation like this. And as usual she's surrounded by outstanding performers. Fans of UK cinema will appreciate David Thewlis' reptilian performance as a pimp who preys on naive and lost kids. And the film is smart enough to reintroduce Tom Bell as Bill Otley, Tennison's main nemesis from within the force in the first Prime Suspect. Otley maintains his chauvinistic, combative stance with Tennison, but this time he's able to overcome his dislike of Tennison to further the investigation. He redeems himself but still comes off as arrogant and far from perfect.
As a sidenote, the only installments in the Prime Suspect series written by creator Lynda La Plante are the original and this one. There's a toughness to La Plante's writing that really helps this episode feel less like a sequel and become entirely engaging on its own terms. Mirren and her outstanding supporting cast all contribute to this masterful piece of filmmaking that maintains the ability to surprise and affect an audience even in such a common genre.
As I mentioned, the video starts out looking terrible but improves somewhat. At its worst it's so soft that there is virtually no detail. Plus, colors are either garish or dull. At best, the picture is still indistinct and lifeless but when the color palette is more muted it becomes not quite as ugly. (High praise, I know.) It's OAR full-frame.
The Dolby surround audio is also very modest. Muddy and uninvolving, the dialog-heavy film is a bit tough to decipher at times (like the other releases, there are no subtitles) and the music is murky. It's a shame that none of these releases have better technicals. They really deserve better.
Prime Suspect 3, like the two that came before it, is superbly tight entertainment. The plotting, acting and dialog are all terse and just minimal enough to tell this gripping story. It's sad that the DVD is so lackluster. It's at least worth a rent, but having the first three installments as a collection isn't a bad idea either.