Suspect Zero (2004)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Suspect Zero</strong> (2004)

(In theaters, August 2004) I see it all the time, yet I still hate it all the time: A boffo premise trashed by over-development, partially redeemed by just about enough directing/acting skill to make us long for the film that wasn’t. Zack Penn’s original 1997 screenplay was reportedly a barn-stormer of a script, a take on the serial-killer genre with plenty of things to say. I’m not sure what happened to it in the meantime, but the 2004 filmed version of the story is a hodge-podge of supernatural crap without much in terms of a sustained storyline. The structure is off, revelations are made too late, coincidence abounds, silly shortcuts are taken and, worse, some bits (the fifty-foot shark) don’t make sense without prior knowledge of the script. It gets, in other words, profoundly silly, and that’s exactly the wrong tone in a serial-killer picture. The matter-of-fact acceptance of “remote viewing” hurts most of all, but the rest of the picture isn’t all that special either: the energy has been sucked out of the script, resulting in, yes, a dull film. There is an interesting patina of good directing here and there (though it too-often falls into the “dark is scary” mode), along with a good performance by Ben Kingsley (his ear-rie shadow is spooky). It’s enough to rescue the film from a total catastrophe, but not enough to make it any good. Hey, Universal, how about re-making that first draft?

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