Film Reviews

SUSPECT ZERO

By • Aug 27th, 2004 •

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Paramount in association with Intermedia Films and Lakeshore Entertainment. A C/W production
MPAA rating: R / Running time — 100 minutes

QUOTE: A taut, effective serial killer thriller.

Major Edward Dames (Ret.), the controversial face of remote viewing, is a dear, close friend. I’ve known Ed for nearly fifteen years and have sat in many times on his RV workshops (remoteviewing2004.com). So, of course, I found his work in SUSPECT ZERO to be terrific. He certainly has a big career in films if he ever wants to shed his self-proclaimed “Dr. Doom” persona. In fact, there wasn’t enough Ed in SUSPECT ZERO. Ben Kingsley hogged all the close-ups and I resented it.

Ed, who initially was hired as a technical consultant, so impressed director E. Elias Merhige that he was given the role of remote viewing trainer in SUSPECT ZERO. Knowing Ed’s charisma – he’s the kind of guy who could make you want sell all your stuff and move to a desert to await The Rapture with him – I’m not surprised.

Further, through full disclosure, I should mention that my husband is a founding member of The International Remote Viewers Association (www.irva.org.) and currently sits on the Executive Board. For a comprehensive overview of remote viewing I strongly recommend Jim Schnabel’s 1997 book “Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Psychic Spies.”

Troubled Thomas Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart) is a disgraced FBI agent sent to backwater New Mexico after screwing up a high profile serial-killer case in Texas. Unbeknownst to him he’s being “psychically” tracked and immediately becomes involved in an interstate murder orchestrated by the killer to draw him into missing children cases. Surprisingly, his former lover and FBI colleague from Texas, Fran Kulok (Carrie-Anne Moss), is dispatched to be his partner in New Mexico.

We know who the killer is. Benjamin O’Ryan (Ben Kingsley) is faxing information to Mackelway. He even sends Mackelway his address. Mackelway goes to his rooming house and looks around. There are plenty of clues conveniently left behind – thousands of tiny pieces of paper with numbers on them. Another visit to O’Ryan’s room has a projector running a black & white reel. A narrator spells it all out: Project Icarus was a top secret program run by the government (the real program was called “Stargate.”). O’Ryan, using his remote viewing skills is looking into the future victims of serial killers. He stakes out their next victim and savagely murders the killers. He leaves the intended victims as witnesses. O’Ryan is now on the hunt for a serial killer he calls “Suspect Zero.”

Mackelway doesn’t bother to ask anyone who has met O’Ryan or his rooming house pals for a physical description. No one checks his driving license. O’Ryan is, of course, totally crazy but dedicated to his mission of revenge.

Remote viewing is a passive activity done alone. Kinglsey – personally trained by Ed – does an impressive job. Ed told me that he put Merhige through a familiarization RV course but put Sir Ben through an intensive crash course. Sir Ben was reluctant to take the course at first because he was afraid he would lose his mind to RV and disrupt his acting abilities. At one point he wanted to back out of the training. Ed assured Sir Ben that SUSPECT ZERO’s premise that RV affects the mind was merely a cinematic device. Ed told me: “It might be considered unfortunate that Remote Viewing is portrayed in SUSPECT ZERO as a mind altering process. Yet it was necessary to present it in highly dramatized fashion. The film is effective in introducing the idea to the public.” Ed also reviewed the screenplay by Zak Penn and Billy Ray for accuracy and assisted in shaping the explanation of the Icraus program.

Once again Ben Kingsley captivates the film with his intense portrayal of a man consumed by his passion. Merhige, whose SHADOW OF A VAMPIRE is now a classic, imbues SUSPECT ZERO with an eerie, pensive climate that is haunting.


Cast:
Thomas Mackelway: Aaron Eckhart
Benjamin O’Ryan: Ben Kingsley
Fran Kulok: Carrie-Anne Moss
Rick Charleton: Harry Lennix
Harold Speck: Kevin Chamberlin
Highway Patrolman: Julian Reyes
Raymond: Keith Campbell

Credits:
Director: E. Elias Merhige
Screenwriters: Zak Penn, Billy Ray
Story by: Zak Penn
Producers: Paula Wagner, E. Elias Merhige, Gaye Hirsch
Executive producers: Jonathan Sanger, Moritz Borman, Guy East, Nigel Sinclair, Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi
Director of photography: Michael Chapman
Production designer: Ida Random
Music: Clint Mansell
Co-producers: Lester Berman, Darren Miller
Costume designer: Mary Claire Hannan
Editors: John Gilroy, Robert K. Lambert

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