Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Suspect Zero" (2004) - Movie Review

Ben Kingsley does not have a screen presence but creates an aura through his acting. His silence in characters bring a mystery which can be both chilling and caring. A troubled person with a reason to it. Such is what he portrays an old man Benjamin O’Ryan with a knack for scare his victim before gruesomely executing them. To mark symbolism and leave clues to FBI Agent Tom Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart). A psychological thriller, “Suspect Zero” moves beyond that to experience what these two people go through, how much ever one doubts in the process.

This empathy is not melodramatic but an obsession films like these might say it as a statement and move on. Not “Suspect Zero” directed by E. Elias Merhige giving a background for it. Tom arrives to the not so dynamic Federal office in Albuquerque and he is one of those defamed agents films haunt to bring the past. Here despite that marring character, he is haunted by Benjamin. He sends out faxes and then they find a traveling salesperson with circle and cross marked paper by him. That leads to bring back old memories of bringing Tom’s ex-partner Agent Fran Kulok (Carrie-Anne Moss) to the team.

A film not so flashy is dangerously digesting in the findings. Editing John Gilroy and Robert K. Lambert carries so much of the story telling which has details of something super natural. It brings in a concept which almost makes it ridiculous to consider it serious in a film like this. Benjamin apart from killing these dubious middle aged men sits in a room with a pen in his hand hearing instructions from a tape. Suddenly he begins to draw random scribbles which then turn into specifics and still remain unprofessionally draw. A systematic approach to have those two quality to make it clear and believable.

We later learn something called remote viewing which much to my surprise was practiced widely in the secret community of US intelligence and army in obtaining information. A science developed out of that and still murky around its application, “Suspect Zero” use that to build a character and through which does what every film aims at doing, putting the audience through the shoes of a character. What would be the trauma to see the gruesome things and feel it through something diabolical living and breathing? Benjamin would have seen that and may be that is the reason he has developed this obsession to find the man he theorized in his college days.

Carrying the suspense and keeping it intriguing through till it hits the credits, the screenplay is arranged purposely to be chiseled in pieces which does not make sense. Despite that the narration always gives a hope of something real coming out of it. It does not want to make an end but unravel naturally towards it. And in Ben Kingsley, they get a character who is ferocious, sadistic, obsessive and deeply saddened with the things he cannot control. Aaron Eckhart as Tom living a guilt is caught by this obsession and through this investigation he does not become the mad man doing everything out of instinct with the audience frowning why would he do that. We understand his drive when he breaks into Benjamin’s victim house to understand and confirm his findings.

“Suspect Zero” as regular thriller achieves the protagonist’s temptation to become the follower and get through it. But this is a film about the study through the results of seeing evil, more than a regular person. It asks all sorts of questions of these theories presented to us. The idea of someone randomly killing without pattern and escape right through the system always enough to cause genocide spooks us with a believability. Written Zak Penn and Billy Ray, this is a film serious enough to take something questionable and make it a conversation than a statement. Through it it also provides character we empathize, with scare.

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