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Suspect Zero
DVD disk
Apr 12, 2005 By: Quigles
Suspect Zero order
Director:
E. Elias Merhige

Actors:
Aaron Eckhart
Ben Kingsley
Carrie-Ann Moss

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When a series of murders and kidnappings take place, it’s up to FBI Agent Thomas Mackelway to put a stop to it. He finds Benjamin O’Ryan, a serial killer who uses a psychic ability known as “remote viewing” to find and kill rapists, murderers, and other scumbags. As it turns out, they’re looking for the same twisted freak; a child-napping prick who has been committing countless murders all over the country.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Before viewing this movie finally on DVD, I went through many phases concerning it. When I first saw the trailers and heard about the actors in it, I was completely psyched to see it. Then it came out, and I heard absolutely “zero” positive word of mouth (heh heh, get it? zero? ... ok, I’ll shut up). I decided to wait for DVD, and now that I’ve seen it, I understand why people hated it. It isn’t that the movie’s bad per se, but rather that it should be so much better than it is. I’m guessing the hatred for this film stems from the character development, or rather, the lack thereof. The movie relies much more on style than any actual “real” character exploration, even though they try to squeeze the most obvious ideas into that category. We get an uninteresting main character (despite being played well by Eckhart) as the tortured FBI Agent, a tacked-on partner/relationship story (with Moss) that’s given about five seconds worth of focus, and a one-dimensional asshole boss who “doesn’t buy it”. Then we have O’Ryan (played perfectly by Kingsley) as the very creepy telepathic dude. He’s easily the most engaging character in the film, but is still explored less than I would have liked. It feels like everything in the movie comes up short. There’s a cool idea presented, but it doesn’t build anywhere. We get a strong cast, but they aren’t interesting enough. Even the stylized directing annoyed me in places.

A huge portion of people’s enjoyment for this movie will rely on how easily they can buy into (or just accept) the idea of “remote viewing”, a psychic technique that was apparently used in real life. If you are immediately put off by the idea, then you will most likely hate this film. I, for one, didn’t find it believable, but was still able to just go along with it in order to enjoy what I could of the movie. The stuff I did enjoy mostly involved Kingsley and the slick directing, as well as the very promising opening scene. The stuff I didn’t enjoy was the basic characters, shaky camerawork, under-whelming ending, and non-thrilling filmmaking. When I say non-thrilling, I’m referring to the fact that I was never on the edge of my seat, nor was I scared or freaked out. I felt like I was watching a horror-esque drama... with gore. I’m not saying that the movie tried to be scary, which I don’t think it did (or at least I hope it didn’t), but I’m just warning not to expect anything frightening. I can imagine many people deeply enjoying this film, but I can’t say I was one of them. What I can say though is that is that there’s enough original stuff in SUSPECT ZERO (that is, alongside the basic stuff) to warrant fans of serial killer flicks to at least rent it.
THE EXTRAS
Considering how unsatisfying the theatrical release was, we’re lucky to get anything at all on this disc. Luckily, there’s a few worthy things to take note of that enhance the movie’s experience on a whole.

Commentary (with director E. Elias Merhige): Aside from moments of simply explaining what’s going on, this was a great listen. I started to appreciate the movie a lot more after hearing this man speak. I think we can expect some great things to come from Merhige.

What We See When We Close Our Eyes (30:56): A four-part featurette that is decent, but also acts as a movie “clip-show”, meaning it constantly shows parts of the film (I hate it when they do that). It consists of interviews mostly, and also explains “remote viewing” to a much deeper extent, which I’m sure many people feel the need for having.

Remote Viewing Demonstration (10:39): This is sort of cool, but I still don’t buy it. We see Merhige (the director) be set-up to try “remote viewing” himself. It feels like they find ways to make him even more right than he is about what he “sees”. Alternate Ending (0:59 – with optional commentary by Merhige): A short clip that would have played after the original ending if left in. It shows a darker ending, and I agree with Merhige’s decision to cut it. Still neat though.

We also get the Internet Trailer for the film, as well as four Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
What we have here is a mediocre serial killer movie that keeps nearly achieving greatness, but comes up short on almost every account. The acting, premise, and directing are all things that count as high-points for the film, so it’s hard to understand why it’s not awesome. The main obvious flaw lies in the characters, who are barely explored, and even when they are, still remain flat and dull (aside from Kingsley, who always entertains). Fans of movies such as SE7EN, and the like, are sure to enjoy this movie on at least some level. The DVD extras have some decent stuff too, so if this type of movie is your “thang”, check it out.
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