A serial killer killing serial killers? I don't know that that's a bad thing - especially since this guy specializes in serial killers the cops haven't even suspected yet. He's got a great little signature, too - a note featuring a zero with a slash through it, and he makes life imitate art by making his victims' eyes look like the one in the picture. Who do you get to play a madman like this? Gandhi, of course. Yes, Ben Kingsley, the man who played Mr. Nonviolent Protest himself, is the guy targeting serial killers here in Suspect Zero - and he plays the role exceedingly well, I might add.
Suspect Zero is, in my opinion, somewhat underrated. To me, it made perfect sense all along. It's a little confusing at first seeing conspicuously red-tinted images flashing buy out of nowhere, but it becomes clear pretty early on that the man being hunted is a remote viewer. Even if you aren't familiar with the concept of remote viewing, it's hard not to figure it out, so I'm not sure why some people seem to come away from this movie feeling totally lost. In a nutshell, remote viewing, which has absolutely been used by American intelligence and the FBI, allows the sensitive viewer to "see" things happening elsewhere, be they missile silos, enemy forces, or serial killers doing what serial killers do. Since Benjamin O'Ryan (Kingsley) can see the crimes, he can find the criminals. That's what he is doing now, taking out unidentified serial killers with just a little bit of vengeance. The big kahuna, though, is still out there - the killer he calls Suspect Zero. Suspect Zero has made a veritable cottage industry of abducting and killing kids in countless numbers all over the country. There's no discernible link between all of the missing kids, so know one even suspects that the world's foremost killer is out there operating with a free hand, nor would anyone believe that one man could claim literally hundreds of victims without getting caught. O'Ryan knows it, though - he has seen it.
The endgame, for whatever reason, involves Special Agent Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart), and O'Ryan is constantly faxing him cryptic clues and missing children's posters in an obvious attempt to draw the agent to him . Mackelway has something of a history, having taken the law into his own hands to some degree and, by so doing, letting a violent killer go free. As he gets deeper and deeper into this case, he begins having cryptic little visions and develops some kind of connection with the man he is searching for (troubling signs for an agent who's already had to go through an extensive psychological evaluation recently). It stands to reason that the whole gang will assemble at the very end -O'Ryan, Mackelway, and, of course, Suspect Zero himself - and that Mackelway will have to get there without much help from his disbelieving colleagues.
By and large, I think Suspect Zero is an excellent film. It's a thriller with a twist, an unusual story that plays out quite well. Unfortunately, it seems to take a shortcut or two on its way to a conclusion, leaving too much in the hands of fate or coincidence. It also has to go and give us two partners with a romantic history teaming up again - apparently, it's illegal to make a crime thriller without some kind of romantic subplot. Eckhart isn't bad, but he isn't completely convincing as he takes his character to the brink between insight and insanity. Besides his partner Fran (Carrie-Anne Moss), the rest of the characters barely emerge from the woodwork, especially Mackelways' supervisor (who doesn't even yell when he's upset with his rogue agent).
Despite a few minor faults, though, the unusual storyline of Suspect Zero and the excellent performance by Ben Kingsley carry the day, making this film stand out quite noticeably from others in the genre. Dark, gritty, and compelling, it's a film well worth watching, especially for those who harbor a fascination with serial killers.