Welcome to the summer movie doldrums—the time around Labor Day that's infamously regarded as the stinky armpit of the year's release dates.
You would think some studio would wise up to this phenomenon and present a worthwhile film for the holiday weekend. Instead, there must be marketing data that suggests audiences are too busy giving summer one last hurrah outdoors, or else taking one last chance to catch up on earlier summer blockbusters. Anyone else seeking something new at this time of year is usually left with rancid mystery meat served as a Blue Plate Special-the kind of movie that's too costly to send directly to video and too terrible to stack up against healthy film competition. (Anyone recall 2003's Swimfan?)
Suspect Zero is the latest casualty of this Hollywood tradition, and it's got all the symptoms to prove it—significant script revisions, release delays (the movie went into production August 2002), problems securing a high-profile cast. And on top of all that, the ad campaign reveals nearly all of its secrets; if you've seen the trailers or commercials for this movie, you already know the key plot points. Many would say it's the responsibility of film marketers to protect their stories, but the studios believe that it's their responsibility to show audiences exactly what to expect. That leaves us film critics with the responsibility of telling you when the advertisements have said too much—without revealing too much ourselves. But really, the ultimate responsibility falls on the moviemakers for creating a screenplay that's tough to sell without giving away its major plot developments. Circle of life …
The basics: Suspect Zero is essentially an X-files episode that wishes it were as disturbing ...1
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