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Suspect Zero  (2004)

 

Rating: R

Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment

Release Date: April 12, 2005
Review posted: April 11, 2005

 

Reviewed by Jon Bjorling

 

SYNOPSIS

 

Benjamin O’Ryan (Ben Kingsley) is a man with remote viewing powers who hunts serial killers in order to track down the elusive Suspect Zero, a serial killer who hunts the entire country and has yet to be noticed.

 

CRITIQUE

 

Suspect Zero has two things that give it its originality – a serial killer who is hunting other serial killers and the killer’s use of Remote Viewing in order to track his prey. Everything else we have seen before. A disgraced FBI Agent (Aaron Eckhart) who harbors a terrible secret? Check. A partner and/or love interest that the Agent is at odds with. Double Check (Carrie-Anne Moss plays his partner AND former lover.) A highly intelligent murderer who, when not tracking his prey, creates elaborate puzzles to bate the Agent with until they are able to come face to face in the final act? Check.

 

All the cliché pieces of the puzzle are here. But Suspect Zero is not a bad film; it’s just a film that has been done so many times in the past that even the twist of a killer who hunts killers isn’t that fresh or exciting. While director Merhige (2001’s Shadow of the Vampire) does give the film an interesting visual style, the film lacks the tension that is necessary to make serial killer thrillers work. Thankfully Merhige doesn’t try and overcompensate by trying to gross out the audience with its array of mutilated corpses and other potential gross-out points.

 

What does make the film work, however, is Ben Kingsley’s performance. Benjamin O’Ryan is a man who has had a switch flipped in his brain forcing him to see the darkest side of humanity, a switch he cannot flip off. We are able to pity him, even though we know the horrible crimes he is committing. It’s just a shame that the other characters in the film lack the depth that O’Ryan has.

 

In the end, Suspect Zero is just a mediocre film. If you try and look at the film logically, it’ll make your head hurt. However, if you can shut your mind off and just roll with it, the film can be fairly entertaining.

 

THE VIDEO

 

The anamorphic video transfer looks nice. There is no noticeable grain, and the black levels and colors are consistent, even through the many different styles that are employed in the film.

 

THE AUDIO

 

The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. The mix is standard, nothing special to speak of. The use of all speakers is fine, but nothing noteworthy.

 

THE EXTRAS

 

Commentary by Director E. Elias Merhige: Director Merhige’s commentary is very dry and boring. Instead of bring in some insight into the choices he made for the film, he seems to be reading a book based on the film. Not worth your time.

 

What We See When We Close Our Eyes: This four-part documentary looks at the history of remote viewing as it was used by the government in the 70’s through the 90’s. This is pretty interesting, though the first part ends rather abruptly.

 

Remote Viewing Demonstration: Director Merhige remote views for us, I guess.  It’s impossible to tell if what is happening is real or just staged.

 

Alternate Ending: Not really an “alternate” ending, but rather an extended ending in which we come back to Aaron Eckhart’s world a year later to discover that he has taken over Ben Kingsley’s role of Remote Viewing serial killer.

 

FINAL THOUGHT

 

The presentation of Suspect Zero, much like the movie itself, is mediocre. With a fairly worthless commentary track, a remote viewing demonstration that doesn’t seem at all believable, and a four-part documentary about remote viewing (and not including anything about the making of the film,) the extras seem a little lacking.

 

VERDICT: RECOMMENDED

 

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:: The DVD

 

:: DVD Ratings

 

THE MOVIE

6

THE VIDEO

7

THE AUDIO

7

THE EXTRAS

6

OVERALL

6

 

:: Merchandise