Suspect Zero

Suspect Zero (2004)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Aaron Eckhart, Carrie-Anne Moss
Extras: Commentary Track, Alternate Ending, Featurette, Trailer

Somehow I completely missed "Suspect Zero" when it was in theaters. I believe I never even saw a trailer or anything, so when I received this DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment, I was intrigued by this film, especially after seeing Ben Kingsley as one of the principal actors. I dug in to explore "suspect Zero" in more detail and found a dark, brooding thriller that has some very strong qualities.

The film starts out as a traveling salesman is chatted up by a man in a diner one day. The stranger, Ben O’Ryan (Ben Kingsley), pulls out some strange, macabre-looking, drawings and shoves them in the salesman’s face, who leaves the Diner in disgust, intimidated and in fear. As he drives his car through the rain, suddenly the stranger is on the backseat with evidently bad intentions. Soon after the body of the salesman is found, perched in his car with his eyelids removed.

FBI Agent Thomas Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart) is working the case and soon he receives strange faxes from O’Ryan, all of them featuring information on missing people. The hunt begins as Mackelway tries to track down O’Ryan. Is he really tracking him down, or is O’Ryan maybe leading him to himself, one clue at a time?

Although the synopsis may seem straight forward, there are some plot twists I have not discussed so you can fully enjoy them as the story unfolds. Not all is what it seems in this film and I found that in the end, the film has taken the viewer on a suspenseful and thought-provoking tour-de-force. Oftentimes "Suspect Zero" reminded me of David Fincher’s "Se7en" in terms of style and atmosphere. While they are very different films and stories, the menacing atmosphere of gloom that permeates them is very similar.

Ben Kingsley is once again proving that he is one of the most accomplished character actors of our time, as he throws himself into the part of O’Ryan. Almost diabolical he seems sometimes, yet always with some sense of humanity and honest emotions, creating a character that is extremely real and tangible. Aaron Eckhart is also convincing as FBI agent Mackelway as he tries to unravel the case that becomes more and more personal.

Paramount Home Entertainment is presenting "suspect Zero" in its original <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio on this DVD that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. The image is absolutely clean and free of grain or defects. Color reproduction is vibrant, and the oftentimes muted color palette is reproduced spotlessly. The black levels in the transfer are also deep and solid, making sure the dark production design and cinematography is reproduced in all its foreboding quality. No edge-enhancement mars the image and the compression is also perfect, making this a powerful presentation to view.

The audio on the release comes as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> track that is making very good use of the surround channels. Aggressive and dynamic the mix is making the best of the split surrounds to heighten the level of suspense and action throughout. Dialogues are well integrated and never drowned out. The frequency response of the track is wide with good basses and clean high ends, while the dynamic range makes sure to reproduce even the most subtle sounds without loss.

As extras the DVD contains a <$commentary,commentary track> by director Elias Merhige in which he divulges more deeply into the making of the movie as well as his aspirations and ideas. It’s a good commentary that holds a good amount of technical, practical and anecdotal information.

Also on the release is an alternate ending, which I liked, but it makes agent Mackelway appear so much darker in the end that I can understand why it was replaced.

A four-part featurette is also included about the background of the film, as well as a remote viewing demonstration the way it is presented in the film.

"Suspect Zero" totally pulled me under its spell. It is a film that made me think about it longer after I had finished watching it. The subject matter of the film, is execution and its plot twists create an amalgam that gets ahold of you and simply won’t let go for some time. With that in mind, make sure to add "Suspect Zero" to your DVD shopping list.