No, it's not David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson throwing obligatory shafts
of flashlight beams into a dank and darkened basement in which either an
alien or a serial killer lurks ready to pounce. It's actually Aaron Eckhart
and Carrie-Anne Moss in pretty much the same sort of scene in "Suspect Zero,"
which opens in too many theaters August 27th.
Please don't get me wrong about "The X-Files." It's one of my all-time favorite
television series. Chris Carter's creation had just the right mix of creep,
grizzliness, style, characterization, suspense and humor (all well-written)
to wow us with several seasons of mighty fine television, much like that
other rare commodity, the mighty fine film.
I wish I could say half as much about "Suspect Zero." E. Elias Merhige directed
this piece that Zak Penn and Billy Ray co-wrote. It's an equal mix of "Silence
of the Lambs" and the "The Blair Witch Project," but, unfortunately, only
a dash of "The X-Files." Unlike its forerunners, though, "Suspect" is slightly
chicken when it comes to a really full-bore scene of grizzle (No such word,
of course, but you know what I mean). Just let me say that the butchering
aspect of what's wrought by this serial killer is somewhat nuanced.
But you'll get the picture, so to speak, in all its dark, isolated, rural,
"Waitress, I require my Waffle
House® hash browns to be scattered, smothered, covered, chunked and
diced with fava beans on the side (smack, drool!)"
This film's "Hannibal Lecter" is played by the great Ben Kingsley. But
he's not your basic serial killer, here. He's actually a demented
former FBI agent whose cap was snapped, earlier, due to a secret project
other G-Men have put him through called "Icarus." So, Sir Ben's character
is out there stalking through the most desolate parts of the Great Southwest,
which include Gallup, Oklahoma City and Wichita, killing all the serial killers
he can find while taunting a newly demoted FBI agent (recently assigned to
the Albuquerque bureau), played by Aaron Eckhart. I'm so glad the script
called for no scenes in Tulsa.
Although a fine and handsome actor, Ms. Moss appears in "Suspect Zero" for
no discernable reason. There might have been one if the script, with its
unrelenting call for creepy music and whoozy sound effects, would have let
up for a few moments to allow a smidgen of characterization so that Eckhart
and Moss could be human beings to each other, a la Mulder and Scully. A lame
attempt is made at one quick stop in the story that indicates, ever so
fleetingly, that "Suspect's" two agents may have had sex with each
other in Dallas where they had been stationed previously. But I can't really
be sure about that.
"Chew on this,
In fact, I can't be sure of anything about "Suspect Zero," except, that it's
a very confusing film of successive loose ends I soon realized would never
enjoy being knotted into any semblance of clarity or resolution. The best
way I can describe this movie is to say that the script is written much in
the same manner as a rock video is edited. You know, by a graduate of the
Short Attention Span School of Cinema.
How many stars, you ask, does "Suspect Zero" deserve? My reply: "Zero, I