A mysterious serial killer is hunting other serial killers, and one F.B.I. Agent suspects there may be more to the vigilante than they imagine.


E. Elias Merhige


Zak Penn (story), Zak Penn (screenplay) | 1 more credit »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Aaron Eckhart ... Thomas Mackelway
Ben Kingsley ... Benjamin O'Ryan
Carrie-Anne Moss ... Fran Kulok
Harry Lennix ... Rich Charleton
Kevin Chamberlin ... Harold Speck
Julian Reyes Julian Reyes ... Highway Patrolman
Keith Campbell ... Raymond Starkey
Chloe Russell ... Loretta
Ellen Blake Ellen Blake ... Dolly
William B. Johnson William B. Johnson ... Mel
Jerry Gardner Jerry Gardner ... Sheriff Harry Dylan
Daniel Patrick Moriarty Daniel Patrick Moriarty ... Bud Granger
Curtis Plagge Curtis Plagge ... Jumbo
Nicole DeHuff ... Katie Potter
William Mapother ... Bill Grieves


When Dallas FBI Agent Thomas Mackelway violates serial killer Raymond Starkey's civil rights during an unorthodox arrest, Starkey goes free and Mackelway is demoted to a remote branch of the agency in Albuquerque. His first day on the job, Mackelway investigates the murder of traveling salesman Harold Speck, which turns out to be the first of three seemingly random killings. Perhaps they are not random at all. The last to die is Mackelway's nemesis, Raymond Starkey. The assignment consumes him, his past mistakes haunt him, and his head throbs constantly as he tries to find the link between the victims that will lead him to their killer while the case becomes increasingly gruesome and patently personal. This does not go unnoticed by his unflappable partner Fran Kulok, who knows of Mackelway's past and the demons that afflict him. Like Mackelway, she becomes drawn into the labyrinth of chilling clues, all of which point to the enigmatic Benjamin O'Ryan. O'Ryan clearly has a connection ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


To catch a serial killer, think what he thinks, see what he sees. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent content, language and some nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Seven and a half million dollars of the budget came from New Mexico through an interest-free loan. In return, the state received two and a half percent of the box-office, until it made ninety million dollars or over, at which point, they received three percent of the gross. See more »


There is a spelling error of the word 'condensed' (spelled condenced) on O'Ryan's FBI psychological evaluation when Mackelway is reading it See more »


Benjamin O'Ryan: [having sat across from Speck without his notice] What's in the case?
Harold Speck: [looks up, startled] I'm sorry?
Benjamin O'Ryan: You're always lugging that case around. I'm curious. What do you sell?
Harold Speck: I'm in restaurant supplies. I'm-I'm sorry, I didn't get your name.
Benjamin O'Ryan: You must travel a lot, huh? Whole country or just hereabouts?
Harold Speck: I-I don't mean to be rude, but, uh...
Benjamin O'Ryan: How's your wife feel about it?
Harold Speck: What?
Benjamin O'Ryan: She must get lonely, you gone all the time. Does she?
Harold Speck: Look, I...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening Paramount logo is brown (to resemble the desert) and the water in the Intermedia logo is black. See more »


Music by Euphemia Allen
Performed by John H. Skehan III
See more »

User Reviews

'Se7en' – 'Silence of the Lambs' = 'Zero'
30 August 2004 | by george.schmidtSee all my reviews

SUSPECT ZERO (2004) ** Ben Kingsley, Aaron Eckhart, Carrie-Anne Moss, Harry J. Lennix, Kevin Chamberlin, Chloe Russell, Nicole DeHuff, William Mapother. (Dir: E. Elias Merhige)

'Se7en' – 'Silence of the Lambs' = 'Zero'

Trying to make a serial killer film, a sub genre that appears to have overtaken the unstoppable killing machine teen slasher (think Jason or Freddy) that took horror films to another level, must be like attempting to build a snowman in July: not much fun and pointless since it's damn near impossible to perfect an impossibility.

Take the case of this unique perspective to a 15 minutes-of-fame and ticking category : a serial killer killing serial killers! OK now try to convince me for nearly two hours of my time why I should care? Well it was a good idea.

Anyway the premise of the latest style over substance take on it is having a disgraced FBI profiler named Mackelway (Eckhart) being reassigned to the desert of New Mexico when he finds the dullness only adding to his current state of blinding migraines (he chomps on aspirin like Chiclets) until a ghastly murder is found at the border – literally – with some follow up faxes sent directly to him. It seems a former specialty agent, O'Ryan (Sir Ben acting up a storm), who was assigned to a shadowy sect project entitled Icarus (read: getting too close to the sun; burning – foreshadowing of things to come) where highly intelligent applicants were able to 'see' the minds of serial killers at work and transcribing their thoughts into para psychological scribblings in charcoal pencil that would lead them to their quarry. Apparently it has affected O'Ryan to the point of obsession and causing him to act as a rogue executioner of the filth he was assigned to locate. What happens next is a series of murders of murderers that lead a grisly wake to some serious soul searching for one Agent Mackelway. To complicate matters his former partner – and ex-lover – Agent Kulok (Moss) has been called in to help him and his new prickly boss Charelton (Lennix also late of the 'Matrix' flicks) crack the case wide open.

I admit it seems a tad outrageous that someone could psychically forecast an upcoming crime however it is set in fiction and there was a cool 'X-Files' episode 'Unruhe' that had a similar story but it involved Polaroids instead of sketchings. Regardless you have to give the creative team an A for effort yet the screenplay by Zak Penn and Billy Ray is a Luke-warm reheating of 'Se7en' with Kingsley as an ersatz John Doe serving up justice with a nasty slicing off of the victims' eyelids to show what he sees they see and the 'Silence of the Lambs' backbiting of its federal peacekeepers at odds with what they cannot.

Eckhart seems wasted of his talent in a somewhat muted turn – he should be more tortured if that is what his character is implied to be and Moss is undeniably sleepwalking her way through the film no thanks to bad lighting making one of the screen's most lovely women look downright homely. Kingsley has proven to be a very versatile actor notably ditching his Gandhi peace for sinister doings in 'Sexy Beast' a few years ago and here he makes the most of his deeply troubled psychic warrior with a few moments of glass sharp scares.

Director Merhige a relative newcomer employs the usual shaky camera work with some interesting visual courtesy of his ace cinematographer Michael Chapman with its desaturated colors and vibrantly dark moments that underlie the terror at hand. Too bad it couldn't shed it in a more intriguing light.

15 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 147 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.



UK | Germany | USA



Release Date:

27 August 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Suspect Zero See more »


Box Office


$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,446,375, 29 August 2004

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed