Monday, May 30, 2005
Suspect Zero
In which V. is kind of disappointed when the film fails to meet her expectations.

Yeah, yeah. I know there's some kind of marathon of cheesy sci-fi monster films on this weekend, but I've decided to spend my holiday watching a few films I've been keen to see for a while. Suspect Zero was the first of two films I saw on Saturday.

I remember seeing the trailers for this a while back and wanting to see it. It looked like a gritty Seven-esque thriller, and I like that sort of thing. While I did enjoy watching it, I kind of felt like they could have pushed the story a little further towards the edge. And some of their casting choices were a bit dodgy.

Okay, so. You've got Ben Kingsley, and he was part of some FBI project in the 70s. The FBI got all these psychic people and taught them how to do remote viewing. They'd do some kind of guided meditation and mentally target someone (like, for example, a serial killer). Once their mind was locked on the target, the guided meditation would encourage them to do automatic writing/drawing of suspects and crime scenes and the like. Ben Kingsley got really good at this, but the FBI apparently never taught him how to "turn it off". He complains about this rather a lot.

Present day: the remote viewing project is long over. Ben Kingsley can't "turn it off". So he becomes a serial killer who tracks down and kills other serial killers. Ooo, vigilante and stuff. He cuts off their eyelids (grisly!) and leaves mysterious drawings behind.

Meanwhile you have this FBI agent with a tarnished reputation. He's played by Aaron Eckhart, who reminds me of The Highlander and looks a bit cross-eyed. I do not like Aaron Eckhart, therefore I did not like this FBI agent. He was a real asshole. His old partner, Trinity From The Matrix, comes to help him out.

Ben Kingsley keeps sending Aaron Eckhart faxes of missing people with cryptic numbers written on them. Eckhart and Trinity manage to piece together what's happening. Eckhart can kind of sort of do remote viewing as well, I think, but it's never really explored much in the plot. He takes a load of aspirin all the time and Ben Kingsley sends him taunting faxes all about DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU GET HEADACHES? HAHAH LOLL!!!1.

Eventually Aaron Eckhart gets all obsessed with solving the puzzle and finding "suspect zero" (a tedious psychological theory that I don't have the patience to explain). Trinity fears for his sanity. Peril, chaos, etc. ensues. Fateful standoff ends the film.

The biggest problem I had with the plot was this: (and this isn't really a spoiler, because it's all revealed pretty much straight away) Ben Kingsley is basically doing this because the FBI screwed with his brain and taught him remote viewing and now he can't "turn it off". HOWEVER, in order to DO the remote viewing, Ben Kingsley has to sit quietly at his desk, and pick up his pencil and paper, AND THEN he turns on a cassette tape with the guided meditation recorded on it. So, um, why exactly can't he "turn it off"?? Damn, Ben Kingsley. Nobody's got a gun to your head, forcing you to play your Little Tape Of Psychosis. Just get rid of the tape. Burn it, or pull the tape apart or something. The film sets up remote viewing as something he has to TURN ON, something he can't do without props and a system. If he truly couldn't "turn it off" wouldn't he be spontaneously remote viewing 24/7 without even needing his tape? I don't get it, and it's a plot hole that really pissed me off.

But overall, yeah, I liked it. I didn't feel as if I'd wasted my time at all. But I did feel as if I'd seen a film that could have been much better if some more thought had been put into it. I'd recommend this if you're into thrillers like Seven or Silence of the Lambs, but don't expect a film of that quality here.