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“Suspect Zero” (2004) Review

Suspect Zero poster

What can I say about “Suspect Zero”? The film is both intriguing and frustrating at the same time, never seeming to realize its true potential. There is so much here that could make for a classic crime thriller, yet the film stumbles to maintain even a slight sense of tension. With a great cast present to bring to life this serial killer hunt, how enjoyable is “Suspect Zero” for its audience?

As I just mentioned, “Suspect Zero” has a solid cast that really suit their characters. Aaron Eckhart tries to keep things tense as FBI detective, Thomas Mackelway. Ben Kingsley, though, delivers a wonderful performance as Benjamin O’Ryan. Kingsley is able to capture a wide range of emotions and helps make O’Ryan a deeply affecting character. The two do well in working together in this chase, while Carrie-Anne Moss just felt so-so in her role.

With its two main characters in capable hands, it’s a shame the plot is such a mess. Yes, there is a basic story that is pretty cohesive (full of typical crime thriller stereotypes), for the most part, but there are so many different ideas introduced without enough development that the overall story feels rushed and undeveloped. I’ll give it to the film that it takes some interesting turns during its course, but it just feels that someone tried to stuff too many story threads in here. It’s a shame that given more development many of them have great potential and would likely make the plot a really great experience – too many plot points are pulled from nowhere and never expanded upon that the story ends up feeling like a writer/director through a bunch of ideas down on a paper and tried to connect them as loosely as possible just to get them to all fit in. Still, despite its shortcomings, the plot works and remains fairly interesting throughout the film.

One thing that "Suspect Zero" benefits from is its acting. Between Aaron Eckhart and Ben Kingsley, the film is certainly stacked with talent.

One thing that “Suspect Zero” benefits from is its acting. Between Aaron Eckhart and Ben Kingsley, the film is certainly stacked with talent.

Unfortunately, E. Elias Merhige fails to create any real sense of tension – a glaring negative for a crime thriller. Any tension that arises is solely to the credit of Kingsley’s talent. Despite this lack of tension in the film, I actually enjoyed the cutting and camera work that gave the film an interesting style. This style really worked for the story and would’ve really benefitted from more of the aforementioned tension.

“Suspect Zero” is not a bad film. Nor is it a great one. It manages to mix many positives and negative, never seeming to transcend its poorly developed plot background and stereotypes. Still, it is worth a watch for fans of crime dramas and thrillers, or those just looking for a decent bit of enjoyment.

Final Score: 5.6/10

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