The protagonist, Matthew Fogg, is the sociopath who has a woman locked up in his basement and boasts of having a special "skill set" in his curious lifestyle. After murdering a part-time secretary at his place of business, Michael falls for the woman's sister who is a neuroscientist running a clinical study for sociopaths called The Empathy Project. But from start to finish, the clinicians were not believable and the study itself was laughable.
First, the participants in the study were a motley crew with one of the members later going on a shooting spree. None of the tests reveal much about Michael's state of mind. Dr. O'Shea learns the most about his troubled past by sneaking a peak at his private journal. Even the poor lab rats cannot model empathy as one vicious rat bites the doctor and kills the other rats.
The film turns into a by-the-numbers action film when Dr. O'Shea takes matters into her own hands after the police are incompetent in failing to solve her sister's murder. While the acting was passable, the narrative unfolded in an over-the-top and nearly comical manner with the plot device of Michael being unable to swim. The office scenes also stretched credibility when Michael appeared to be blackmailing his boss in order to get a six-month paid medical leave. Surely, there should have been someone in HR to adjudicate his case.
The diagnosis of Michael Fogg by Dr. O'Shea was that Micael Fogg was a "zero negative" when it came to empathy. This reviewer is slightly more charitable in granting three starts to a film that at least had some potential, but never went anywhere.