here have been a lot of serial killer films, but
none about a killer that hunts other serial killers instead of innocent
victims. "Suspect Zero" presents that scenario and manages a
fine job of making a believable and chilling film. But while the film
scores major points for originality and terrific performances, the
execution does have some obvious flaws.
The term Suspect Zero refers to a serial killer with
no behavioral patterns or discerning habits. Without these traits, the
killer is essentially invisible to law enforcement, and without a way to
link his random crimes back to him; theoretically the killer could go
When disgraced FBI agent Thomas Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart) is assigned to
investigate the murder of a seemingly harmless salesman, he is sucked into
a powerful vortex whose center is one Benjamin O'Ryan (Ben Kingsley).
O'Ryan is a serial killer as well as a former -- and highly intelligent --
FBI agent. Only now O'Ryan is using his psychic abilities to exterminate
serial killers. As Mackelway grows more frustrated with the justice
system, will Benjamin recruit him as his replacement?
There are many actors that drift in and out of "Suspect Zero",
but only three make any impression. As Mackelway, Aaron Eckhart
("Paycheck") nails the character, and you can feel his
frustration as well as his grief whenever a victim is discovered. Eckhart
also manages to master the small everyday nuances that make his character
flesh and blood.
Carrie Anne-Moss may have been great in "The
Matrix", but she's little more than eye candy and an undeveloped
love interest here. She looks fabulous, but contributes little to the
movie. She's also dramatically overshadowed by Ben Kingsley ("Sexy
Beast"), which is surprising since he has very little to do in
the film. For much of the movie, Kingsley is relegated to the background;
that is, until the finale, where Kingsley comes alive and shows us a
tormented man unable to cope with his paranormal abilities. He's not an
evil man, just someone trying to cope with an extraordinary situation and
help people. Kingsley is so good in the movie you will ask why we see so
little of him.
Zak Penn, one of the writers on the upcoming "Elektra", has an
inventive take on a genre that's become rather stale of late. Penn throws
in Remote Viewing psychic experiments, paranormal abilities, and a wild
concept to elevate "Suspect Zero" from the usual serial killer
flick. His treatment of Mackelway and O'Ryan is also excellent, creating
two well-developed and complex characters that share ability as well as
destiny. His only failure is Anne-Moss' Fran Kulok. Why is she there? Her
character just interferes with the plot and serves little purpose.
"Suspect Zero" has a bleak and atmospheric feel to it, thanks to
the able direction of E. Elias Merhige ("Shadow of the
Vampire"). He keeps us on our toes with a few jolting false scares
and an aura of mystery that permeates the film. Merhige also gives us a
satisfying final confrontation between Mackelway and O'Ryan; not only is
it fueled with adrenaline, but it's charged with despair and regret,
making for a complex way to conclude a story about two complex
Despite some problems, "Suspect Zero" is a
good entry in a stale genre. Fans of crime movies, as well as thrillers,
are sure to be drawn to the film like catnip. A word of caution: those
upset by seeing small children killed or imperiled may want to find a
tamer way to entertain themselves.