Suspect Zero

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated R for violent content, language and some nudity
Starring:Aaron Eckhart, Ben Kingsley, Carrie Anne Moss
Directed By:E. Elias Merhige

Final Grade:

America is obsessed with their serial killer flicks. Films like Silence of the Lambs set the precedence that all other Serial Killer flicks aspire to be. Multiple times each year America heads out to the Box Offices to see their favorite stars tracking serial killers who reek havoc on a city. As the body count piles up and the mystery unfolds Americans have learned they just can’t get enough of the cold calculating violence of a Serial Killer. And Hollywood producers have tapped into this revelation. The Americans have voted with their pocketbooks and multiple movies have been made tracking violent killers. TV shows such as CSI have captivated audiences for seasons. And then one day someone in Hollywood had the “could be” biggest Serial Killer flick yet…Suspect Zero.

One of the “best” things about a serial killer is tracking their ritualistic killings and trying to decipher why they are killing in the first place and how to stop them. But Suspect Zero hones in on a new idea, a serial Killer that actually tracks and kills other serial killers. Ben Kingsley stars as Benjamin O’Ryan, a man trained by the FBI to track serial killers through a strange psychological experiment. Years later O’Ryan still finds himself haunted by his past. He begins to become obsessive with tracking what he calls “Suspect Zero” a serial killer who can’t be caught because his patterns are that he has no patterns whatsoever. In order to catch him he enlists the help of a FBI agent named Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart) who he believes shares the same psychological gift he has. But attracting Mackelway’s attention is harder than O’Ryan imagined and to do it he begins a Killing spree of killing other serial killers which eventually leads Mackelway to Suspect Zero.

I wanted to say something really great about Suspect Zero but I am really at a loss of words. The film reeked of awkward scenes, bad acting and was plagued with the world’s dumbest FBI agents. Apparently things that the everyday American knows about crime scene investigation and forensic science from just watching TV have no bearing in the Suspect Zero world. The Agents run around like chickens with their heads cut off tracking O’Ryan and the audience who cares about the film have already figured it out long before the agents do. The big “twist” of Suspect Zero should have been that O’Ryan is a serial killer who is killing other serial killers. Had the audience not known this going into the film, it may have come as surprise and made a lot of audience members a little more excited. Instead they built the film up on this idea and just drug you along for the ride.

Somewhat Newcomer director E. Elais Merhige does a great job if his intentions were to beat boredom into the minds of his audience. Unfortunately I don’t believe that was his intent. His film doesn’t test any boundaries, doesn’t push the envelope and doesn’t bring anything new to the serial killer genre. You’ve seen the same things executed far better in other films like this. Merhige tries to use lots of red tinted flashbacks to show the serial killers path of destruction, but it doesn’t help the plot at all. All that really does is slow the already slow moving, formulaic garbage plot and continues to drag out for longer than it should have. And of course the movies always love to have a serial killer that decides to “befriend” a cop who he teases into capturing him. Merhige does this in Suspect Zero as well. Real serial killers don’t do this! I assure you. Which makes me question, Where did Hollywood come up with this idea that is replicated again and again and again?

Acting in this film was equally horrible. Aaron Eckhart, whose recent films were stuff like The Core, Paycheck and The Missing, is terrible in this flick. His lines seem delivered half-heartedly and his performance just feels sub par. His co-star Carrie Anne Moss, most famous for playing Trinity in the Matrix Films gets lost in the shuffle of things and is never really given a defining moment to shine in the flick. Her character is so easily disposable it’s almost as much of a mystery to the audience to figure out why she is there in the first place. Ben Kingsley who is a great actor does a decent job in the role, but the film was so terrible it hard to praise him for outshining his cast and the story. That’s like comparing a diamond to a pile of manure. The bigger question for Kingsley is why is he in this flick at all? The same goes for Thunderbirds earlier this year. Kingsley needs to get out of this slump fast before he becomes the laughing stock of Hollywood.

In the end, save your time and save your money. Don’t head out to the theaters to see Suspect Zero. The film is less than average and isn’t worth the ticket price or the rental fee. It’s just really not good. If you don’t believe me yet, I leave you with the following: Halfway through my movie experience the projector shut down at one of the big plot points of the film. As I went out to tell the usher I realized that in the broad spectrum of things, I really didn’t care if the film started again. If it didn’t I got to go home early. The only reason I stuck it out for the rest of the film was my strange desire to find out why a serial killer that kills serial killers is really that bad of a thing. I never learned that lesson.

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