The only one to buy after the first.
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The only Prime Suspect installment (other than the original) to be authored by Lynda La Plante, Prime Suspect 3 once again displays the hallmarks of La Plante's journalistic research base for creating fictional characters. In this case, "rent boys" are the fuel: young male prostitutes/street kids, and in particular one heartbreaking interview where a rent boy had told La Plante that he couldn't have AIDS, because he was only 15. Tennison finds herself investigating the burned body of a murdered rent boy found in a drag queen's flat, and begins to discover criminal ties from a community center that lead up into the highest ranks of the police, and she doesn't know whom to trust. Also, her old nemesis from PS1, Bill Otley, is part of her new team. With the amazing Helen Mirren, and an extraordinary support cast including Tom Bell, Ciaran Hinds, David Thewlis, and Peter Capaldi, this is, after the original, the strongest installment in the series."
Better acting than television usually offers
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Happy day! All of the Prime Suspect movies have made it to DVD. I saw these in the early 90s on A&E and was astounded by how good Helen Mirren was, working inside an organization that did not always want her to succeed (apparently she is too good a detective to ignore, but as a woman - and her own woman - her flaws get her in trouble with her superiors). All the flaws of society and of the police in her part of the UK visit her. Like the rest of us, she tries the best she can to do her job, in this case, to lead a team of detectives and ordinary police to solve the violent crimes she faces in post-Thatcher England.Riveting stuff. Incredibly well written, but occasional strong language may put some off. (Older DVDs released by PBS had the expletives dubbed over, badly done. I've reordered these in DVD and am hoping it's the original UK version, bad language and all. Hardly gratuitous, though)For TV, only the Sopranos comes close to the level of these five mini-series (ok, maybe some other Masterpiece Theatre productions are this good, but this one's contemporary).Some of Mirren's best work is here. See them if you can!Thank you for doing the right thing, media moguls, and getting these to DVD!"
Dealing in stereotypes
Jay Dickson | Portland, OR | 07/03/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"In several of the entries in the "Prime Suspect" series Helen Mirren, as Detective Chief Inspector (later Superintendant) Jane Tennison and the writing have richly deserved all the accolades that have been heaped upon them over nearly twenty years, but that unfortunately is not the case here. This is the only entry besides the first that was written by the series creator Lynda LaPlante, but the writing is extremely weak. This time, Tennison is trying to uncover the truth about a gay pedophilic ring that involves murder, molestation, and child pornography, and all the gay characters Tennison interviews are either delicate victims or monstrous predators (or both). Everything seems lurid and sensationalistic. The director, David Drury, made the ghastly choice to have a boy's choir pipe in incessantly every time Tennison's detectives come across one of the young street hustlers, as if we might forget that innocence has been corrupted. We are also treated to such cliches as fluttery drag queens and menacing AIDS-infected children who inflict deadly bites on the detectives; and it's no good excusing all this by chalking it up to the attitudes of the times, because by 1994 LaPlante truly should have known better. The stereotyping of gay characters is so excessive that in the first episode I knew that there'd have to be at least one suicide attempt among the gay characters: there are no less than three of these, and since two of them seem wildly telegraphed ahead of time in Tennison's immediate proximity she seems like a terrible detective. And she doesn't seem much better as a boss, either, this time around. Usually Tennison must contend with both superiors and subordinates constantly undermining her authority because of her gender, but though her superiors are genuinely out to get her again, here Tennison's underlings seem to be doing the best they can, even though they're constantly being barked at by her for everything imaginable. If you hadn't seen the previous entrants in the series, you'd just think she were just an unpleasant crank.
Mirren, normally an unimpeachable actress, seems to have been done no favors by Drury who allows her to engage in all kinds of distracting bits of "business," like chomping away at her nicotine gum like a house afire to show her distraction and anxiety. David Thewlis, who is also equally talented, also gives a performance that is all tics as the nasty street hustler who is Tennison's prime suspect in the murder of an underage rent boy, and purses his lips over and over again when being interviewed by Tennison and her staff. It's impossible to believe that either he or Ciaran Hinds (here, flat and dull) could deliver any of the menace or charisma needed to keep so many young victims in line. The other actors fare much better, particularly James Frain as a sweet-sad molestation victim and Peter Capaldi as a nervous drag queen. They, and the machinery of the plot, are really all that keeps this production afloat."
A terrific, haunting, and EXTREMELY dark story
maskirovka | Alexandria, Virginia | 10/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This probably is the most unusual review I will ever write. I watched Prime Suspect 3 years ago, and I thought it was a terrific police drama with an intricate plot and as always a commanding performance by Helen Mirren and the supporting cast.
But I don't think I will watch it again for decades because the subject matter is so profoundly ugly. In a nutshell, DCI Jane Tennison investigates a horrific murder of a "rent boy" (underage male prostitute) who is found burned to death. In her inquiry into this sordid world, Tennison finds evidence of something even worse than this sort of human trafficking...a secret ring of pedophiles preying on young runaways.
There is nothing particularly graphic visually, but the subject matter is something that I think most people would find profoundly unsettling. I'm not condemning the makers of this Prime Suspect installment because police officers like the fictional DCI Tennison sometimes have to walk in the sewers of society and see all the ugliness that is down there. For being willing to do that and keeping the sewers from overflowing into "decent" society, I salute them.
I just think that this particular story makes me think of a Russian poet who liked to write beautiful poetry about profoundly ugly and disturbing topics. He called it, "plucking the flowers of evil." I think that this Prime Suspect story is an example of that...a terrific story with great acting about criminal behavior and human conduct that is sickening to put it mildly.
So if you aren't easily haunted by disturbing ideas and the grimmest facts of life, you will find this a great police procedural. I just know that I won't be watching it again for a long, long, long time ... if ever."