Review by Gordon Justesen
Aaron Eckhart, Ben Kingsley, Carrie-Anne Moss
Director: E. Elias Merhige
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: April 12, 2005
me turn it off."
thrillers aren't as frequently made as they once were. Back in the mid 90s,
especially after the release of the unbeatable Se7en, it seemed like there was a new one every week. So since they're
hasn't been one in a while, it would seem that a movie of this sort would be
more than welcome, and Suspect Zero
does have something of a fresh spin on the typical serial killer plot.
The movie opens
most effectively at a roadside diner during a rainstorm. A seemingly innocent
salesman is confronted by a mysterious man who places himself across the table
from him. He begins showing the man some disturbing photographs. It scares the
salesman away to his car, where later on the highway the same man arises from
the backseat to take the prey out.
The murder case
lands on the desk of FBI agent Thomas Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart), who has just
been transferred from Dallas to New Mexico in the wake of a scandal that he may
or may not have taken part in. He is soon paired with former partner/flame agent
Fran Kulok (Carrie-Anne Moss). Mackelway sneers at the idea of them working
together, since she is still with the Dallas bureau and because of a possible
flaw in their alleged relationship.
What appears to be
a routine homicide turns to be more than just that. Mackelway learns that the
salesman victim turned out to have a nasty criminal past. The body was also
marked with a design of a circle with a line through it on a piece of paper, in
addition to having the eyelids removed. When another body pops up in the trunk
of a car parked outside the diner for several days, with the same marks/design,
the feds sense a connection, but it's anything but an ordinary series of
Their trail leads
to that of Benjamin O'Ryan (Ben Kingsley), a man who knows all there is to know
of Mackelway and his past. The agent is frequently taunted by the countless
faxes sent to him from the mysterious O'Ryan, each of them sketching a design of
a murder that has happened or is going to take place soon. Is he toying with
Mackelway, or is it something of a call for help to prevent future murders from
And O'Ryan, while a
suspect, also has another agenda. Once in the FBI himself, O'Ryan was involved
in a top secret, government funded program called Icarus Project. This project
involved a technique called "remote viewing", which allows selected agents to
determine a killer's face and the scene of a crime, using that of only the mind.
The project has long been terminated, but it's suspected that the process has
taken over the man, and that he is going insane at the same time he's hunting
down serial killers.
The title Suspect
Zero refers to a theory raised by a character in the movie. The theory is
that one person could become the perfect serial killer if killings were
committed randomly, and without a specific pattern. The circle markings with the
slash serve as the symbol.
While I do give the
movie credit for delivering something of an original premise, as well as good
performances (especially by Kingsley), the overall film is not as involving and
intense as it could be. In addition, the story tends to confuse by not offering
any explanations as to why Mackelway is having bizarre visions. He seems to
receive fuzzy visions at the same time O'Ryan is seen conducting his private
remote viewing sessions.
And the final
moments of the movie don't deliver the required jolt. I don't want to give
anything away but once the mystery is revealed, the action hurries itself
up-thus not giving the viewer enough time to get gripped by the suspense, unlike
that of Se7en. I will say that the
last shot of the movie does make a unique revelation.
In the end, Suspect
Zero is a mixed bag. I appreciated the original and startling plot scenario,
but just felt that certain areas could've been a little tighter and the ending
could've offered a little more joltage. If anything, the movie is worth checking
out for the galvanizing performance by Ben Kingsley.
The movie has been
given a most strong visual look to it, thanks to director E. Elias Merhige. The
periodic grainy imagery and washed up browns and reds serve the movie quite
well. The anamorphic presentation from Paramount is a most effective offering.
The New Mexico setting provides some terrific scenic shots, and all around image
detail is nicely done. A number of darker shots don't fare as well, with slight
haze and softness, but this remains an overall terrific looking disc.
A most strong 5.1
mix is at hand here. Being a suspense movie, you'd least expect a good number of
sound perks, and this sound performance has a few to spare. The remote viewing
sequences pay off the best in terms of effective sound. Dialogue delivery is
terrifically heard, as is Clint Mansell's well crafted score to the film. A well
executed handling of sound.
Included on this
disc is a commentary track by director E. Elias Merhige, a four-part featurette
titled "What We See When We Close Our Eyes", which delves into the history of
remote viewing. There's also a remote viewing demonstration, an internet
trailer, and an alternate ending with optional commentary, and let me say that
for once I found this alternate ending very worthy of being left in the movie.