Suspect Zero (2004) E. Elias Merhige
Production Budget: $27 million
Worldwide Gross: $11 million
Suspect Zero is a bad attempt at cashing in on the success of Se7en. How bad was this movie? Well considering the fact Se7en was released in 1995 and this movie was released in 2004, it was pretty bad. The script, which was finished in 1995, went through numerous revisions in an attempt to salvage it. But after several years, the producers just wanted to get the movie done so they used one of the first scripts and tried to gloss over some of the most egregious plot holes.
The movie is about Agent Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart), a disgraced FBI agent who is put on the trail of a mysterious serial killer played by Ben Kingsley. Mackelway soon finds a pattern to the murders which no one else sees. Mackelway finds out the killer is seeking out and killing serial killers and that he is looking for a person known as Suspect Zero. Suspect Zero is supposed to be this serial killer who has killed hundreds of people but does not conform to any pattern so no one knows they are hunting a serial killer.
First off, this movie seems very confused as to what it actually wants to be. At first this movie tries to be a big mystery as we try to find out why Kingsley’s character O’Ryan is committing the murders. Who are his targets? Why is he killing them? What method is he using to pick his victims? How many people does he have targeted? The script plays the reveal O’Ryan is killing serial killers like some big twist. That is all well and good except for one thing. That is we are told just about everything in the opening scene when O’Ryan murders a child rapist/murderer. It is like reading a whodunnit by starting with the first chapter.
The movie also tries to shoehorn in a morality lesson about vigilante justice but it just doesn’t work. The writer is trying to ask “How dare this man take the law into his own hands?” but I gotta say I’m not feeling any kind of moral outrage at this guy. This man has a fool proof way of seeking out serial killers and in some cases are saving people from being murdered (he stops at least one killer in the act before rape/murder). Sorry if I’m not as disgusted or horrified by this guy as I was John Doe. By making O’Ryan infallible and the people he hunt so despicable you lessen the moral outrage the audience is supposed to feel.
The acting is alright from the two main leads. Eckhart and Kingsley both try but are kind of hamstrung by the material. Kingsley does the best job but is so limited in his screen time that it is hardly worth it. Eckhart is given the generic psycho burned out cop role and there isn’t all that much which is compelling about him. Even though Carrie-Anne Moss is given a major credit she is almost an afterthought. She appears in only a few scenes as Mackelway’s partner/ex wife. She is given no character development, nothing in the story to do, and does absolutely nothing to help/hurt Mackelway’s character. Her character could have been replaced by a card board cut out and you can tell she was only added to cash in partially on the success of the Matrix.
Now this movie is bad, but I was nowhere near hating it. Nothing about this movie was offensively bad and there were times where I could see brief flashes of they movie they were TRYING to make. Unfortunately you can see all the plot holes, problems, and poor writing that kept this movie on the shelf for so long that they didn’t fix. It is a shame that a movie with good actors like that have to be wasted.