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Suspect Zero

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Suspect Zero

Starring: Ben Kingsley, Aaron Eckhart
Director: E. Elias Merhige
Rated: R
RunTime: 99 Minutes
Release Date: August 2004
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

*Also starring: Carrie-Anne Moss, Julian Reyes, Frank Collison, Kevin Chamberlin, William R. Mapother, Brady Coleman, Ed Dames, Nicole DeHuff, Buddy Joe Hooker

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Harvey Karten review follows movie reviewmovie review
2.  Susan Granger read the review video review
3.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewvideo review
4.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
5.  Jerry Saravia read the review movie reviewvideo review

Review by Harvey Karten
2 stars out of 4

With Suspect Zero, director E. Elias Merhige proves that even a film-maker with the artistic sensibility to knock a fine film like "Shadow of the Vampire" (a fictional work about the making of F.W. Murnau's creepy silent "Nosferatu" wherein the audience must guess whether Max Schreck is an actor playing the role of a vampire even when the camera stops shooting or an actual vampire himself), can come up short. His "Suspect Zero" lack credibility, but that's not a problem since, after all, tales of mystery and imagination do not have to be down-to-earth believable. What's wrong is that the picture is so convoluted, featuring images in the imaginations of an FBI agent and a former member of the bureau, that we in the audience can become exhausted simply from trying to piece the bits of puzzle together.

Zak Penn and Billy Ray's script incorporates just about every combination and permutation you can think of which are writers' favorites when they deal with serial killers, bringing to mind David Fincher's 1995 movie "Seven," about a dedicated detective who breaks in his replacement during his last week in service but then stumbles onto the trail of a murderer, and Jonathan Demme's "The Silecne of the Lambs," about an FBI trainee recruited to get through to a psychotic criminal.

Aaron Eckhart and Ben Kingsley are the principal focuses of the story, as FBI Agent Thomas Mackelway and former bureau officer Ben Kingsley respectively. They share aspects of character aside from their work with the bureau. Both are susceptible to visions, both chew aspirins for chronic migraine headaches. For his part Tom Mackelway has been demoted from the Dallas office to the minor leagues in Albuquerque where he is joined by Fran Kulok (Carrie-Anne Moss) with whom he had a romantic relationship in the past. They appear to compete, each trying to out-do the other, until the common enemy reunites them with a promise of restoring what they had lost. The scene- chewer of this movie, however, is Ben Kingsley in the role of Benjamin O'Ryan, who is clearly a killer: we observe his stalking of a mild-mannered fellow in a diner until the latter's untimely demise at the hand of a strangler.

As in other formulaic thrillers, the killer taunts the FBI by leaving clues here and there including a bevy of faxes of missing persons--most of whom would presumably turn up dead at the hands of the serial killer. The faxes are directed specifically to Agent Mackelway. However when we in the audience notice a large truck carrying ice cream and other refrigerated goods cruising children's playgrounds, we might wonder whether O'Ryan has an assistant who pursues the same gory agenda or whether the two are essentially unrelated, working the murder scene as independent contractors.

Michael Chapman has some dashing camera work of the New Mexico landscape, particularly of the rocks that tourists the world over head to that area to photograph and to barrel along the highway at supernatural speeds. Kingsley is the actor to watch. Eckhart does OK but is better served by roles in independent features by film-makers like Neil LaBute, since "Suspect Zero" is a pot pourri of random scenes designed to confound, rather than intrigue, the audience.

Copyright 2004 Harvey Karten

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