Suspect Zero
dirs. Merhige
Opens Fri Aug 27
Various Theaters

Okay, I'll admit it; sometimes I hear voices. But they only occur in movie theaters when I suddenly realize the film I'm watching stinks. The voices I hear are the Hollywood agents who pitched the story in the first place. For example, while I was watching Suspect Zero, I heard the following:

"Oh, you're gonna love this one! Picture it: A cross between Silence of the Lambs and Seven...except not so depressing. See, it's about this FBI agent who's tracking a serial killer--but here's the gimmick! The serial killer only kills...OTHER SERIAL KILLERS! Ka-Zing! Oh, boy! I'm glad I'm not driving right now, because all I can see is DOLLAR SIGNS!"

Aaron Eckhart plays Agent Mackelway, the aforementioned FBI guy. After blowing a particularly juicy case, Mack is demoted to a tiny FBI office in Arizona where he's immediately contacted by serial killer Benjamin O'Ryan (Ben Kingsley). Luckily, O'Ryan is a psychic serial killer--which makes tracking down and killing other serial killers a lot easier. So along with his completely useless partner/former lover (Carrie-Anne Moss), Mack races against time to catch this serial killing serial killer.

Now, maybe I wouldn't make a good FBI agent, but if I found out somebody was bumping off serial killers, my first reaction would be "AWESOME!" Makes everyone's life easier, right? And that's the main problem with Suspect Zero. Sure, it's got the same discombobulating flashy visual style as a Seven or Silence of the Lambs--but it lacks any of the narrative drive. Ben Kingsley's character may be crazy, but like Dennis Rodman on the basketball court, if he gets the job done, who cares if he wears makeup and a wedding dress?

Both Eckhart and Kingsley are good enough actors to pull off believable characters, even in a junior varsity thriller like this one. But if I want to cheer on a serial killer, I want somebody scary. Like Hannibal Lecter. At least with him, I know he wants to eat my liver.