Suspect Zero Movie Review

I suspect that zero is moderately close to the number of viewers who will be impressed with Suspect Zero. Another by-the-book serial killer thriller that uses David Fincher's Seven as its guide, Zero takes a clever premise and buries it beneath layers of substandard detective clichés and crude camera tricks meant to deceive us. It's so desperate to keep us in the dark for as long as physically possible that it finally begins to lose its own way.

The mouse in this stock cat and mouse game is disgraced FBI agent Thomas Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart), a dedicated G-man with a high-profile blemish on his service record. His grievous error on a previous case earned him a demotion to the Bureau's dead-end Albuquerque office, though it's not long before Mackelway's hot on the trail of another cold-blooded killer. This wandering murderer (Ben Kingsley) exhibits no motive and establishes no pattern to his killings, but enjoys faxing Mackelway clues to drag the investigator deeper into a series of perplexing mind games.

The idea of casting Kingsley, who once played Gandhi, as a sadistic killer still tickles the imagination, even if it has been done before - and better - in Jonathan Glazer's Sexy Beast. But because Zero director E. Elias Merhige commits himself to the Seven formula, Sir Ben's screen time is restricted to glorified cameos in the film's first half, leading up to a meatier role by the film's conclusion (think Kevin Spacey in Fincher's masterpiece without the shock value that part carried).

That leaves us with passive Eckhart, his erratic partner/lover (Carrie-Anne Moss), and a handful of unnecessary distractions tossed in by Merhige and screenwriter Zak Penn to throw us off a trail we could never pick up on our own anyway. Split-personality theories, GPS coordinates and Mackelway's omnipresent migraine headaches all have us looking left whenever Zero decides it wants to fake right. Merhige experiments with grainy visuals and scarlet filters, but there's no reason for the gimmicks when he employs them, and they ultimately point out how vanilla the film would be if he had left well enough alone.

Ironically, Zero conjures a decent explanation for all the mysterious happenings that clog the film's first half. In hindsight, Penn manages to answer a lot of questions that are raised by the story, and the conclusion turns out to be a lot better than the beginning. Unfortunately, very few people will have the patience to wade through the conventional to reach the lone twist that sets Zero apart from its competition.

An alternate ending is included on the DVD along with a commentary track, an extensive making-of featurette, and a "remote viewing" demonstration that is pretty far from credible.

Suspect: Pretty lights.

Comments

Suspect Zero Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 2004

Advertisement

More Aaron Eckhart

Vinnie Pazienza Boxing Biopic Recruits Aaron Eckhart and Miles Teller

Aaron Eckhart and Miles Teller are both set to star in a new boxing biopic based on the life of world champion Vinny Pazienza. The...

I, Frankenstein Movie Review

Even with its relentlessly cliched production design (trenchcoats and flickering candles galore), this raucous gothic thriller deploys enough visual flash to hold our attention. The...

How Long Can 'Ride Along' Maintain Its Box Office Mojo?

It was a tame weekend for the box office Friday through Sunday, with Ride Along keeping its top-spot status for a second week, according to...

'I, Frankenstein' Falls Over At Box Office, 'Ride Along' Speeds Ahead [Trailer]

The latest Hollywood incarnation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein legend, I, Frankenstein, has flopped at the US box office, coming in sixth place on its debut...

Advertisement

Box Office Reflects Critics Views On 'I, Frankenstein'

The Box office response to I, Frankenstein has mirrored the critics. The film has failed on its opening day to inspire audiences in the US...

'I, Frankenstein' Fails To Raise Critics' Pulses

I, Frankenstein, the latest adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic novel, has been crushed by critics and no electrical cables or extra body parts seem likely...

Now That 'Olympus Has Fallen,' It's London's Turn in the Sequel

If you thought Olympus Has Fallen was bad, then wait until you heard this: the brainiacs at Millennium Films have decided a sequel is in...

A Week In Movies: Mitty premieres in New York, Gravity lands in London, Radcliffe talks Ginsberg, Frankenstein teases

Ben Stiller's remake of the 1947 classic premiered at the New York Film Festival this week, with Stiller and costars Kristin Wiig and Adam Scott...

Advertisement