Tulsa TV Memories

"Suspect Zero"
A Review by Gary Chew

Shadow and penlight

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

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, bluecollar insanity.

"Waitress, I require my Waffle House® hash browns to be scattered, smothered, covered, chunked and diced with fava beans on the side (smack, drool!)"
And where's my baconburger?

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.

Carrie-Anne Moss

                                     "Chew on this, Gandhi!"

Carrie-Anne Moss  Carrie-Anne Moss

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 suspect."

"Suspect Zero" poster

Watch a trailer at SuspectZero.com.

Gary Chew can be reached at garychew@comcast.net.

Copyright © 2004, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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