← Back to Reviews

Suspect Zero


Suspect Zero, 2004
IMDB Details Suspect Zero

Since the dawn of remembered history man has been curious about the intricacies of the mind and body and about how truly imprisoned (or not) we really are within the flesh and bone confines of our collective existence. In the US in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s there was a strong surge in public interest in all things mystical and many attempts to scientifically document what is collectively referred to as ‘The Paranormal’. One such study, classified as a PSI-Ops experiment, was able to garner military interest in that it was able to bear fruition in the form of startlingly accurate displays of ESP (Extra Sensory Perception). The project, officially titled RV (Remote Viewing), in 1974, was adopted by the US government as a means to use then thought psychic abilities to locate enemy personnel, locations, bases etc by the process of psychically fixing on these items from a remote location and then using that data to plan operations.

All of this sets the stage for what, to me, was to become one of the most interesting portrayals of a serial killer ever to grace the screen via the unmatched thespian skills of one Sir Ben Kingsley.

In the film, Suspect Zero, the FBI has a problem. Agents Mackelway and Kulok, played by Aaron Eckhart and Carrie-Anne Moss respectively, are beginning to see what seems to be a disturbing lack of pattern in a string of cross country murders which
they have been assigned to solve. When their chief suspect who also happens to be Mackelway’s nemesis turns up as a victim, the plot unfolds into a spectacular game of cat and mouse that felt, to me, like a breath of fresh air for the genre not unlike that of Silence of the Lambs a few years prior.

No, I’m not comparing Suspect Zero to Silence of the Lambs but rather underscoring the ‘wow’ factor that both films evoked in me.

It’s always been my belief that we humans know far less than we think we know. We have made huge strides in science, huge strides in general knowledge and with that we can explain away much that our ancestors held as miraculous. With each ounce of knowledge though comes a pound of questions generated by that very grain of wisdom and its purpose and place in the whole of reality. I love films that deal all aspects of the unknown, though for some reason good quality examples are sometimes difficult to find. Many adhere to old stereotypes or safe interpretations that give the impression that we know all there is know about these subjects.

Suspect Zero is definitely not safe. The film is dark, dramatic and Kingsley’s power and presence center stage underscore the frighteningly plausible idea that there possibly really are people out there who can know things that they aren’t supposed to know by natural definition. The director, E. Elias Merhige (of Shadow of the Vampire fame) did a masterful job of orchestrating all of the runaway trains in the story into an unforgettable crescendo of a train wreck at the end.

Fair warning, the ending does have its detractors but to me if felt as if my guts were being yanked out sans anesthesia, which is a good thing IMHO.

If you like serial killer thrillers and wouldn’t cringe at the idea of some paranormal events thrown into the mix, watch this one. It was definitely my kind of recipe.