Suspect Zero (2004)
Director: E. Elias Merhige
New Mexico. A psychic serial killer (Kingsley) is hunting down murderers, rapists and child kidnappersâ€¦basicallyâ€¦the scum of the earth. Itâ€™s up to Aspirin-chewing FBI Agent Thomas Mackelway (Eckhart) to crack the case and put an end to all the madness.
With all the negative word of yapper out on "Suspect Zero", I went in this ride with Suspect Zero expectations (thatâ€™s me being "clever", by the way). Thankfully, I caught myself getting stuck on this flickâ€™s morbid web at frame one and digging lots of it throughout.
"Suspect Zero" was a visually driven film. Iâ€™ve had a lot of friends tell me that the movie was incoherent and I still donâ€™t know what these dudes were smoking (I want some of it thoughâ€¦hook me up!). The intricacies of the storyline were communicated via imagesâ€¦does that make it unintelligible? Nope, it just means that you have to stop staring at your neighborâ€™s crotch and pay attention to whatâ€™s happening on screen. Personally, this babyâ€™s â€śX-Filesâ€ť on acid feel rubbed me the right way! How did I appreciate thee? Let me count the delights! First and foremost, Merhigeâ€™s sumptuous visual style hooked into my flesh deep and reeled me in like the trout that I am. The striking New Mexico location and the beautiful cinematography also contributed in making this flick a bright, yet morbidly gorgeous, looking movie! I wouldnâ€™t even have needed a story with this one-- I couldâ€™ve just watched the striking images and shot compositions for an hour and a half and called it a life. Yes, it looked that good!
The second sucker-punch thrown in my face was the filmâ€™s compelling ideas. The investigation angle was gripping in its slew of maps, clues and numbers, O'Ryanâ€™s nature was fascinating, while the slick premise of having a killer hunting down killers brought up many thought-provoking themes. Furthermore, the fine casting on hand upped my involvement in the picture with Eckhart and Kingsley, in particular, owning the scenery like the champs that they are. Although his screen time was minimal, Kingsley had a couple of standout scenes that had me grinning from ear to ear. Good show! Lastly, I connected hardcore to the â€śfantasyâ€ť factor of the flick. You see, the film deals with child kidnappings and other atrocities that happen on a regular basis in our pathetic society. Those subjects anger me more than smutty Larry Clark crap-fests! You bet, I was rooting for the good guys to catch that piece of scum child-napper like a Lakers girl on 12 healthy lines of cocaine. KILL THAT F*CKER!!!!
Unfortunately, "Suspect Zero" was definitely more interested in buttering our shafts with hypnotizing style than delving as deep as it could within its weighty substance. Aaron Eckhartâ€™s emotional journey was slapdashed our way-- so much more couldâ€™ve been done with him! Ben Kingsley's (O'Ryan) character was too underdeveloped as well. That was the film's biggest shame since O'Ryan mesmerized me. More on him psychologically and of him doing his dirty deeds wouldâ€™ve made the whole so much stronger. Then there was the Carrie-Ann Moss subplot which wound up being fairly useless. It felt like there was a big part missing from that narrative line, a part that wouldâ€™ve justified her presence and her drastic shift in behavior towards the lead. Lastly, I couldâ€™ve gone without the â€śI donâ€™t buy itâ€ť FBI boss whoâ€™s always busting the heroâ€™s balls. I've seen this character way too many times in films of this ilkâ€¦Iâ€™ve had enough of himâ€¦LOSE THE GUY!
All in all, I came out of my "Suspect Zero" sit-down a fairly content genre fan. Although not as fleshed out as it shouldâ€™ve been, I found the film to be an entrancing look into the evil that lies within men. Will you hunt down this suspect?
We get lots of cut off eyelids and carvings made in oneâ€™s chest.
Aaron Eckhart (Thomas) gave a solid performance, conveying a wide range of emotion with his eyes and facial expressions. They shouldâ€™ve given him more to play with though. Carrie-Anne Moss (Fran) did fine, but her part was pointless-- think "Scully light", but with nothing to do. Ben Kingsley (Oâ€™Ryan) nailed his role, managing to be scary and endearing at the same time. His final speech tugged at my dead heart. Good shit, Benny!
T & A
I was reminiscing to a scene from â€śWhere The Boys Arenâ€™t 16: Dark Angelsâ€ť during the previews before the filmâ€¦does that count?
Merhige went bonkers and then some on this one! We get ample arresting slow motion, trippy filters, quick cuts and super stylistic angles. I heard he used an old Fisher-Price Pixelvision camera for the psychic flashesâ€¦heyâ€¦it worked! What a drop-dead beautiful movie!
Clint Mansell (Pop Will Eat Itself) and John McCarthy delivered atmospheric and somber ditties that upped the power of the film considerably. Good work, guys!
The stellar audio/visual experience that was "Suspect Zero" tagged with its engrossing enough premise and its bang-on cast made sure to make my watch go down smoother than a Budweiser after a hard day of drinking. Granted, the filmâ€™s meat was criminally undercooked and Carrie-Ann Mossâ€™ character had no business in this flickâ€¦but I still a good time. Now if only I could track down child kidnappers/molesters in my everyday life, Iâ€™d gladly slit their throats slowly one after the other, after the other, after the other. A man can dreamâ€¦
The flick was shot on location in Albuquerque for $27 Million.
Tom Cruise executive produced (uncredited) the film, which would explain the presence of his leech cousin William Mapother (Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia, MI 2, Vanilla Sky, Minority Report).
At the 2001 San Diego Comic Con, JoBlo and I had our picture taken with E. Elias Merhige by one of his cronies. The thing is, we were so excited about it, that we forgot to ask for our camera back. We went to the "Lost and Found" department, but it wasnâ€™t there. All that to say, Elias...tell your buddy that I STILL want my fuckin' camera back! Thanks!