Suspect Zero


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"A little more thought could have gone into the script, like a good ending, for example.."










Suspect Zero
The Masked Reviewer

Do you like your thrillers exciting, suspenseful, and dare the Masked Reviewer say it...taut?  Do you like being on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, clenching your buttocks?  If so, you may be all tingly with anticipation about what the Masked Reviewer thought about Suspect Zero.  The fact that the Masked Reviewer is going to tell you what he thought about Suspect Zero shouldn't be any big whoop, because you're here, reading this review.  But did he like it?  Was it good?  What is his opinion?

It wasn't good.

Oops!  Anticipation gone, thrillingness shattered, dreams dashed.  If you found the lack of suspense in this review to be kind of a let down, then don't go see the actual movie, because you'll be way more bummed.

The movie stars Ben Kingsley (who you may remember as Ghandi); this time he's an insane homicidal maniac with a none-too-convincing southern accent that may or may not be helping a troubled FBI agent (Aaron Eckhart).  Sound familiar?  It will if you saw Silence of the Lambs.  Obviously, that film had a lot of influence on the makers of Suspect Zero.  The problem is, they weren't influenced enough.

All of the makings of a great thriller are here.  There's a somewhat interesting story involving serial killers.  Oooo.  There's stylish visuals.  Aaaah.  There's a supernatural element.  Eh.  There's a big name actor (Ben Kingsley) and a guy who looks familiar (Aaron Eckhart) and Carrie-Ann Moss (Carrie-Ann Moss), so the acting must be good.  Mmmmmm.  However, the film doesn't do anything with the pieces. 

Imagine you go to a party and they wheel out a six foot tall cake.  You know there's a stripper inside.  So you wait and you wait, and while the cake looks good enough to eat, you don't really care because you want to get to the stripper inside.  But then, the party ends and just as people are leaving, somebody you don't get a look at sneaks out of the cake.  You get rushed outside and you never know exactly what happened.  That's what Suspect Zero is like.  Where's the stripper?  We want the stripper!  The whole movie is a set up for a big pay-off, but the pay-off never comes.  In fact, after it's all over, you'll start to realize that there wasn't really as big of a set-up as you thought.  The movie builds to something, but you won't even be sure what the climax is. 

The characters in the film are empty.  There's the insane guy, but we don't get in his head much, he's just a run-of-the-mill genius maniac.  You've got the FBI agent...he has his own problems, and nobody cares.  You won't either.  Then there's Carrie-Ann Moss, whose impact on the story is exactly zero.  One might suppose that the filmmakers needed a female lead, so they threw her in.

The screenplay was written by Zak Penn.  He also wrote X-Men 2 and the upcoming Elektra.  On the other hand, he also wrote Inspector Gadget and one of the most maligned movies of all time, Last Action Hero.  A little more thought could have gone into the script, like a good ending, for example.

The film is directed by E. Elias Merhige.  The Masked Reviewer wonders if he was ever picked on as a kid.  In any event, E.E. Merhige previously directed Shadow of the Vampire with John Malkovich and Willem DaFoe, which had some good things said about it. 

It's hard to say that Suspect Zero is awful.  It is, but it's a movie that you won't realize isn't very good until it's all over.  It holds interest throughout, even though there's never anything interesting happening with or to any of the characters.  There are some moments that one assumes are supposed to be scary cat-scares, but they all fail miserably.  It does have a sense of style, especially with the visualizations of the supernatural elements, but it isn't a good movie.  Go see Silence of the Lambs again, or watch an old Hitchcock movie.  His name is more fun to say than Merhige anyway.


Expectation from the Title: This may be an indication of what the producers were expecting the average number of stars given to this film would be.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Ben Kingsley looks better with some meat on his bones.

The Pros: Some interesting stylistic elements.  It somehow holds attention most of the way through.

The Cons: Doesn't go anywhere, bad writing, no character depth, fizzles out at the end.

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