review for Suspect Zero on AllMovie

Suspect Zero (2004)
by Derek Armstrong review

Suspect Zero is the kind of movie title you might find on a Seinfeld episode, and the satirical quotient doesn't drop off much from there. It's not ridiculous in the traditional sense, but since it never wavers from the post-Silence of the Lambs template for serial killer movies, it might as well be a parody of them. Especially egregious in this regard is the desert standoff that closes the film, featuring a mentally traumatized Aaron Eckhart holding Ben Kingsley at gunpoint, the latter goading him into action. The scenario is so shamelessly plundered from the ending of Seven, Kingsley's shaven head even makes him a dead ringer for Kevin Spacey. To call this revelation a spoiler would be to overestimate the surprises Suspect Zero has in store. Among its many unsurprising elements, Suspect Zero has the disgraced FBI agent, the killer who leaves him personalized clues, the fetishistic crime scenes, the secondary killer on a parallel spree, even the David Fincher-ized film stock and editing techniques. What it doesn't have is a whiff of urgency or innovation. The couple times the movie does tiptoe up to something cool, it can't convert. Kingsley practices an unusual telepathic ritual for locating potential victims, one of the few plot points worth examining. But screenwriters Zak Penn and Billy Ray don't offer even a preliminary scientific explanation for this dubious procedure, as though they're admitting it's just hocus pocus that's supposed to look good on film. Suspect Zero is suffused with this type of artifice, nothing more than underwhelming raw materials shaped into a soulless facsimile of something great.