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Suspect Zero (2004) Suspect Zero is about serial killers, FBI agents trained to solve crimes telepathically, and a corona-like play of light behind Ben Kingsley's bald head that… 2004-08-27 R PT100M Action/Adventure Mystery and Thriller Aaron Eckhart Ben Kingsley Carrie-Anne Moss Tom Cruise Paramount Pictures
Movie Review

Suspect Zero (2004)

MPAA Rating: R

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Ben Kingsley, Aaron Eckhart, ... | MY CHIN SAYS GO THIS WAY Didja just love ''Seven''? So did this killer thriller's makers
Image credit: Suspect Zero: Melissa Moseley
MY CHIN SAYS GO THIS WAY Didja just love ''Seven''? So did this killer thriller's makers
EW's GRADE
C

Details Release Date: Aug 27, 2004; Rated: R; Length: 100 Minutes; Genres: Action/Adventure, Mystery and Thriller; With: Aaron Eckhart, Ben Kingsley and Carrie-Anne Moss; Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Suspect Zero is about serial killers, FBI agents trained to solve crimes telepathically, and a corona-like play of light behind Ben Kingsley's bald head that turns the actor's profile into the universal pictograph for psychological danger. But mostly, director E. Elias Merhige's art-house-style pulp thriller is about ornate, cinematic mood -- images that say: America is a place of lonely truck-stop diners and evil child-killers posing as average men.

I don't believe the message, least of all as Merhige obsessively paints it, in a rain-drenched genre study in which every character is photographed on a tilt, or in extreme close-up. Naturally, the scrawls produced by Kingsley as Benjamin O'Ryan (Killer? Rogue FBI agent? Crazy person? All three?) are eerily beautiful enough to hang in a SoHo art gallery. They always are in movies like this.

Merhige, who previously put his taste for German expressionism to exquisite use in ''Shadow of the Vampire,'' sets his modern-day bloodsuckers in Albuquerque, N.M., where Tom Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart, matching Kingsley scenery chew for chew), a verifiable fed, has been demoted for a plot bonus. Carrie-Anne Moss plays Tom's excessively gloomy partner. ''What a f---in' freak,'' she observes, delicately, in the script by Zak Penn (''X-2: X-Men United'') and Billy Ray (''Shattered Glass''), when the two uncover a lair strewn with O'Ryan's scrawls. The truth is, the freakiness kinda turns the director on, and he nearly strangles ''Suspect Zero'' with love.

Originally posted Aug 25, 2004 Published in issue #781 Sep 03, 2004 Order article reprints