Plot: What’s it about?
When watching “Suspect Zero” I was immediately reminded of some other movies about serial killers that are, well, much better and more entertaining. “Suspect Zero” falls into a genre that has become over used and somewhat overexposed these days – nevertheless a genre that can chill the viewer to the very bone. It’s just that “Suspect Zero” isn’t a movie that does it. Director E. Elias Merhige made the very interesting “Shadow of the Vampire” a few years back with Willem Defoe playing Nosferatu (Dracula). Evidently Merhige has a very visual sense about him, but I feel a lot got lost in the works when making this film. The cast is full of actors that I really can’t get enough of. I loved Aaron Eckhart in “Erin Brockovich” and “In the Company of Men”, Carrie Ann Moss in “Memento” and Ben Kingsley in just about everything he’s in. So the elements were in place, but the movie just didn’t do it for me. Why?
Eckhart plays Thomas Mackelway, former golden boy of the Dallas FBI but who ran into some trouble and has now been demoted to the “minors” in Albuquerque. It seems that trouble follows Tom as the first day on the job he receives faxes of missing people. His first assignment is to investigate a murder which he quickly learns is part of a larger web of murders. His only link to the mysterious killings is through the man he’s tracking, Benjamin O’Ryan (Ben Kingsley). Benjamin is a strange character and one that was set up to make it look like he might be behind all of the madness. And he might be, but I don’t want to give anything away. Naturally there has to be an attractive female lead and Carrie-Ann Moss fills the bill nicely playing Fran Kulok, a former partner and past love interest with Tom. “Suspect Zero” works on some levels but not on many others. If you’re in the mood for this kind of film, I’d suggest some more intense like “The Silence of the Lambs”, “Copycat” or “The Bone Collector”. A good cast really can’t save this film that might just be a little too smart for its own good.
Video: How does it look?
“Suspect Zero” is shown in its original 1.85:1 anamorphic aspect ratio and suffers from a few problems. First, the entire print seemed to be a bit dingy. I’m not sure if this is a problem of the budget, film stock or it’s just a bad transfer. There are times in which everything looks good, but others when it seems a bit out of focus. The majority of the film takes place in the New Mexico desert, so the brown hues tend to dominate which means it’s never a literal pretty picture. The level of detail is impressive, but I feel that this could have looked better. A Full-Frame version is also available.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is pretty standard. I wasn’t terribly blown away by it, but it did have a few moments where the surrounds really kicked in. For the most part, this is a dialogue driven movie with clean and clear sound emitting from all channels. The LFE did do some rumbling about halfway through and the ending chase scene through the desert was fairly active as well. On the whole, nothing too spectacular but nothing too terrible either.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Paramount has wisely beefed up the supplements for this release which begins with a commentary track by Merhige. He’s rather dull and dry on the track and he pretty much sticks to what was on the screen. His comments are also present on the alternate ending, which I felt should have been left in the movie. Next up is a four part featurette “What We See When We Close Our Eyes” is more of a montage of the meaning of the movie as opposed to the “Making of” it (a nice change of pace, by the way). It’s more of a look on the paranormal than how the film was made. Merhige also tried to do a live demonstration of how the “remote viewing” works, but instead he was the subject. I find it hard to believe the outcome – but hey…that’s just me. There are also some trailers for some other Paramount titles as well as the Internet trailer for this movie. All in all “Suspect Zero” will entertain; I just feel there are better movies out there that cover this same sort of topic. Average picture and sound and a good selection of extras make this disc a rental at best.