E. Elias Merhige's bizarre SUSPECT ZERO wastes some fine acting talent on a
movie that gets more preposterous and infuriating as it plods along. It is a
movie that would have been much better -- albeit still not good -- if the
director's postprocessing budget had been slashed as severely as the story's
victims. After the one hundredth dream sequence distorted with heavy use of
red tinting, I thought I was the one going mad rather than the characters in
When we meet Tom Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart, ERIN BROCKOVICH), he is a FBI agent
who has just been sent to "the minor league." Once the top agent in the Dallas
office, he was suspended for six months and then reassigned to Albuquerque
after screwing up royally on a case by executing his own self-issued
extradition order for a suspect. This aspirin-popping agent suffers from
troubling and horrific daydreams. You'll have to suffer through them too.
On the first day in his new office, Mackelway starts getting voluminous,
threatening faxes from Benjamin O'Ryan (Ben Kingsley, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG).
O'Ryan, a mercurial man with an extremely acute case of excessive-compulsive
disorder, thinks he is an ex-FBI agent, which he might have been. He may also
be either a serial killer or a hunter of serial killers or both. The
ridiculous story piles one unbelievable episode on top of another until you are
ready to scream, "Come on!"
For no reason whatsoever, maybe the studio felt the picture needed a female
lead, Carrie-Anne Moss (THE MATRIX) plays Fran Kulok, an agent from Dallas who
is brought in to be Mackelway's partner on the case. She disappears from the
set so frequently that you begin to wonder why the producer even bothered to
hire her in the first place if they didn't really have plans for her.
The story also has elements of a secret government program to train people to
be psychics, large murals featuring black holes, corpses with zeroes carved on
them and an ending sequence reminiscent of an old Boston Blackie chase.
"Agony, torture, ..." O'Ryan says to Mackelway, towards the end of the movie.
I completely agree.
SUSPECT ZERO runs a long 1:40. It is rated R for "violent content, language
and some nudity" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
My son Jeffrey, age 15, gave it **. He complained that he didn't buy the
suspect zero theory proposed in the film and that he found the music
ineffective in supporting the movie's story. Jeffrey's friend Kyle, also 15,
thought the film was "unexplainably good" and gave it ****. His friend Dustin,
15 as well, found the movie really good and gave it ****.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes