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
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.