Drive-By Movie Review: Suspect Zero

This is a review of the 2004 movie Suspect Zero, starring Aaron Eckhart and Ben Kingsley.

Plot Synopsis: An FBI  agent gets called in to investigate a strange murder. When the trail leads him to the suspect, he realizes that he has been drawn into a psychological labyrinth that turns what is expected upside down.

Me: Nothing is more disappointing to me than when I watch a movie that raises my expectations by starting off really strong, only to watch it lose momentum and go off into the weeds.

The Honeybee: I know what you mean.   It’s kind of similar to these two-bit amateur reviews we do every week.

Me: Yeah, right.   Kind of.   Can I finish making my point?

The Honeybee: Please do.   Sorry if I already killed the momentum.

Me: I bet you are.   For the first twenty-five minutes or so, with its chilling opening sequence and the follow-up scenes detailing the resulting crime scene and opening investigation, Suspect Zero had my rapt undivided attention.

The Honeybee: Me too!   When I saw the opening scene with Ben Kingsley I immediately said to myself, “Hey, cool!   This is going to be like The Silence of the Lambs.”

Me: No doubt, Kingsley certainly had his Sir Anthony Hopkins mojo working in this flick.   The bald head, his intense on-the-precipice-of-insanity demeanor.

The Honeybee: You know, I think Kingsley could have played Hanibal Lechter as well as Hopkins did.

Me: Fo shizzle.   Hey, would you like to give the synopsis this time?

The Honeybee: Are you kidding me?   That’s your job, so get going.   Is it just me, or is this review already dragging?

Me: You’re not helping here today.   Aaron Eckhart plays FBI agent Tom Mackelway, who is assigned the task of finding a serial killer named Ben O’Ryan (Kingsley) who, it turns out, has been murdering other serial killers.   O’Ryan happens to be an ex-FBI agent trained in a psychic technique developed by the military and adopted by the FBI called “remote viewing,” which he uses to find his prey.   But in the course of his investigation for O’Ryan, Mackelway inadvertently unravels the potential existence of the mother of all serial killers – another guy they dub Suspect Zero.

The Honeybee: Supposedly this guy was responsible for what must have been a thousand random child killings all across America.

Me: And there’s the rub.   Because Suspect Zero leaves no evidence behind to link his crimes together, Agent Mackelway needs O’Ryan  to  lead him to  Suspect Zero.

The Honeybee: It is a great idea, but parts of this story were confusing.

Me: Like what?

The Honeybee: Like should we be rooting for O’Ryan or not?

Me: His vigilantism made him a sympathetic serial killer, that’s for sure.   And the guy was clearly tormented from his years of  using his ESP powers to uncover so much evil.

The Honeybee: I also never understood why the proprietor of a half-way house  O’Ryan had stayed at some years earlier never reported the elaborate “shrine” he had erected that was clearly the work of a psycho – in fact,  he  just locked the door to the room and left  everything alone until he showed it to Mackelway.   Strange.   So where did the movie go bad for you?

Me: My interest waned as the number of crazy coincidences  and contrived scenes like the one you just mentioned began piling up faster than Suspect Zero’s  victims.     For me it actually started with how Kingsley got into his first victim’s car, when he clearly had no opportunity to do so.   A key note from O’Ryan mysteriously also ends up in Mackelway’s coat pocket.   How did that happen?     In another scene, Suspect Zero somehow manages to abduct a child on a backyard swing set  that was less than five feet from  the mother, who was hanging laundry out to dry.

The Honeybee: If you ask me, this movie was just a “Rent.”   Still, you could do a lot worse.

Me: I have to agree with you, Honeybee.   It wasn’t that Suspect Zero was bad.   But for a movie with so much promise in the beginning, I think it would be fair to say it was more disappointing than anything else.

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    Nick Jameson says

    I thought this movie was pretty good. The Honeybee is right. I think Ben Kingsley would have been a very good Hanibal.

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