I was really looking forward to seeing Suspect Zero. I love the premise: A serial killer who specializes in murdering other serial killers. I am always up for a performance by the sublime Ben Kingsley, and I like the other lead actors as well.
Aaron Eckhart plays Thomas Mackelway, an FBI agent who's relegated to a small, desolate outpost in New Mexico after screwing up on a big case. We know he's not happy about this, because the instant he sits at his new desk he knocks back several aspirin. And I do mean "knocks back" -- the action is so exaggerated, you half expect the guy to wind up in a neck brace by films' end. He rubs his temples, and black and white grainy images burst forth, letting us know he's got some kind of psychic powers. Cut to a creepy, mysterious stranger named Benjamin O'Ryan (Kingsley). We know he's creepy and mysterious, because he collects posters of missing kids, faxes them anonymously to Mackelway, and also has grainy, black and white psychic visions. We know a lot in Suspect Zero, because when the filmmakers aren't telling us everything outright, they are clubbing us over the head with painfully obvious clues. Suspect Zero is filled with clichÈs, even the old-partner-who-used-to-be-a-lover female Fibby (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) who's tough as nails and sharp as a tack.
There are some effective scenes in Suspect Zero, particularly those of the murder scenes and some of the shocking discoveries by Mackelway as he closes in on his elusive quarry. But caged in by claustrophobic cinematography, the scenes are so frustratingly tight they make you want to ask Mackelway if you can borrow some of his aspirin. Suspect Zero is somewhat suspenseful in spots, but it is never scary. There is a bit of shock value for horror fans -- if you've ever been freaked out over the thought of having your eyes egregiously injured, you might flinch once or twice.
Eckhart is a fine actor (I liked him a lot in Erin Brockovich and in Possession), but he's not edgy enough to carry off the inner torture Mackelway is supposed to be burdened with. Kingsley has an impressive body of work, and he especially blew me away in 2003's House of Sand and Fog. I was very much looking forward to see what he'd do with such a meaty role here, but he chose to go over the top and camp it up (much like John Malkovich did in director E. Elias Merhige's other quasi-horror flick, Shadow of the Vampire -- so it would seem the blame for this type of performance should fall on Merhige).
It does have its moments, but overall Suspect Zero simply doesn't add up to anything worthwhile.
Review by Staci Layne Wilson for Horror.com