Suspect Zero

As serial killer movies go, Suspect Zero offers nothing new.  It attempts to do so initially, positing an interesting theory on random abductions, then proceeds to slip into so far into ridiculousness that there is no way to redeem itself.  If anything, it comes across as a poorly written rip-off of The X-Files.  The 'suspect zero' theory is that there is one serial killer responsible for the vast majority of unsolved disappearances.  This killer can get away so easily because there is no pattern to his killings; they are completely random.  In other words, his pattern is that there is no pattern.  Suspect Zero also deals with remote viewing.  In the film, the FBI hired people to 'remotely view,' or use mental powers, to glean images and clues from crimes scenes.  Basically, the remote viewers were mind readers.

This sounds interesting thus far.  FBI Thomas Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart, Paycheck, The Missing) begins investigating a series of murders where all the victims were left with a strange symbol of a circle and a slash and had their eyelids removed.  Mackelway was banished to Albuquerque from Dallas for some unrevealed disgrace, which means that this will somehow tie into the plot.  As the mystery deepens, the FBI brings in Agent Fran Kulok (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix Revolutions, The Matrix Reloaded), who was his old partner.  It's really hard to say how good of an agent Mackelway is.  His prime suspect, Benjamin O'Ryan (Ben Kingsley, Thunderbirds, House of Sand and Fog) claims to have been in the FBI, but there are no records.  Moreover, O'Ryan keeps sending Mackelway clues about where the next bodies will turn up, or identities of who was killed.

Moreover, Mackelway is plagued by headaches, and constantly rushes off on hunches, so everybody around him thinks he is crazy.  Maybe, maybe not, but it's certain that screenwriters Zak Penn (X2, Behind Enemy Lines) and Billy Ray (Shattered Glass, Hart's War) are smoking something if they think their story can be taken seriously.  Director E. Elias Merhige (Shadow of the Vampire, Anti-Christ Superstar) does make the film look moody and uses lighting sparingly, but the story is so dumb and far-fetched that Suspect Zero soon becomes comedic. Eckhart runs around ragged while Moss just stands there stoically, like some ice sculpture.  Kingsley hams it up a little, but it's perfectly in line with his character.  The worst part is that the entire thing is pretty dull.  People are liable to fall asleep while waiting for the story to kick in. 

The brunt of the film is the hunt for O'Ryan, who may or may not be suspect zero.  It turns out he isn't, and more importantly, Mackelway begins to believe that he may indeed by hunting the actual suspect zero.  As they investigate the dead bodies, Mackelway discovers that each of the people is a serial killer.  O'Ryan is hunting serial killers.  So what's with the trail of bodies?  Why is Mackelway involved?  The story gives an answer, but if one steps back and thinks about it, it doesn't make any sense.  In fact, much of Suspect Zero fails to make sense.  It looks great and has a dark tone to it, but the absence of logic really hurts the film. 

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 39 minutes, Rated R for violent content, language, and some nudity.

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