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By Jeremy Knox | August 28, 2004


A man is sitting in a diner reading a magazine. He’s quiet and ordinary looking, rotund and inoffensive, the type of guy who tries to sell you insurance. Another man comes up to him. This is O’Ryan (Ben Kingsley), an ex-FBI agent. O’Ryan makes a few traveling salesman jokes then shows him pictures of “things”. It affects the other man quite a bit and he calls the waitress for help. However, by the time she comes, O’Ryan’s vanished.

The man decides that he’d better get the hell out of here before the crazy guy returns, so he runs to his car and peels out onto the highway. Behind him, another car follows him out of the parking lot and tailgates him. After a moment, it passes him and disappears.

That’s when he sees O’Ryan in the rear view mirror. He’d been hiding in the back seat all along.

All this happens in the first couple of minutes of the movie. Did you spot the mistake? I did.

Why did the director have another car pull out of the lot as a red herring if he was only going to reveal O’Ryan in the back seat 3 seconds later? Where was the tension? WHAT WAS THE POINT??? Don’t worry though, it only gets worse.

FBI Agent Thomas Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart) receives an odd fax after he’s been reassigned to New Mexico for screwing up a case. The fax leads him to the strangled dead body of Harold Speck, our friend from the diner. Because of the gruesomeness of the crime, Speck’s eyelids were cut off, a serial murder is suspected and Mackelway’s old partner Fran Kulok (Carrie-Anne Moss) shows up to help. They trace Speck’s previous whereabouts to the Diner and find O’Ryan’s car in the parking lot. Inside the trunk is another body, mutilated in the same way as Speck. A search of the victims’ homes reveal them to be *drumroll* serial killers.

Say it with me: “Ooooooooooooo…”

The movie contains not one surprise, not one shock, not one scare, not one bit of interest for any moviegoer over the age of ten (mentally or physically). It’s convoluted beyond belief and so ignorant of the FBI and Serial Killers that you wonder why they even bothered. If you’re going to get almost everything wrong, then add clichéd characters and plot points as the only respite from the stupidity; why go through all the time and effort? Why don’t you just burn money for an hour and film that? It’d be more interesting than watching this dreck.

Think I’m being harsh? I’m not. I happen to think that all the people involved here are talented. It’s just that the whole thing drips with banality and deja-vu. I mean how many movies can have a “hot shot” FBI agent using “questionable” tactics because he’s so “obsessed” with the case? How many movies have an FBI Director who “doesn’t understand” our hero’s unique methods? How many crappy uninvolving and underwritten romances have we seen between a male and female partner? At this point I can almost recite the dialogue by heart.

All this wouldn’t be so bad if the movie didn’t constantly contradict itself. Just look at the “Suspect Zero” theory. The idea is that a single serial killer might be responsible for most unsolved disappearances in the country. He’d have no pattern and leave no clues. There would be no way to find him. Okay, it sounds impossible but I’ll bite. However, when it’s time to make me believe this ludicrous idea there’s a problem. “Suspect Zero” DOES have a very obvious pattern in the film and the way in which he captures victims is so impossible that you’d think he was Jason or Freddy for a minute. Here’s the thing. If you dream up an implausible idea for a movie, that’s fine, you just have to wrap so many plausible details around it that the audience will suspend their disbelief and buy it. “Suspect Zero” makes no effort at this whatsoever. It assumes that copying the look and feel of other, better films like “Silence of The Lambs” or “Seven” will be enough.

I can buy the remote viewing idea. I can suspend my disbelief about that because Ben Kingsley makes me believe it. However, don’t ask me to believe that a guy in an 18 wheeler can kidnap people without making noise or being noticed. It’s insulting to my intelligence. Oh, I’m sorry… did I ruin the mystery? No worries, the movie ruins it much better than I do. Let’s get one thing straight here. There is NO mystery about “Suspect Zero”. The trailer may make it appear like there’s some sort question about whether or not O’Ryan himself might be “Suspect Zero”, but that one line about it in the trailer is the one time that it’s even brought up in the movie. Not only that, but it’s dismissed by Mackelway who believes that O’Ryan is hunting “Suspect Zero”. So what was the point of bringing it up? For the trailer I guess.

This is a film devoid of tension or suspense. The cast seems bored, the director seems bored. This is a prime example of by-the-numbers filmmaking. You want to watch something with almost the same idea, done a million times better? Go find the old X-files episode “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”. That episode managed to create more real emotion and pathos in its first fifteen minutes than this entire film managed.

But don’t just take my word for it. I was watching this movie with a friend and when the end credits rolled I noticed that he’d fallen asleep. I think that pretty much says it all, don’t you?

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