Kevin Bacon in Elephant White.

(Kevin Bacon, "Kevin Bacon"): Elephant White / Suspect Zero (2011|2004)

By Dom Sinacola · Sep 03, 2012

Mercenary Curtie Church (Djimon Hounsou, ‘‘Blood Diamond’‘) is hired to take out a notorious Thai sex-trafficking gang by a father whose daughter was kidnapped and murdered by the gang. With the help of a ruthless weapons dealer (Kevin Bacon, ‘‘Mystic River’‘), Church finds the men he is hired to kill. But what starts as a paying job turns into an outright war between two rival gangs, and Church finds himself caught between the corrupt world that surrounds him and the truth behind the man who hired him.

So reads the back-cover teaser of Elephant White, last year’s latest from Thai director Prachya Pinkaew, who is probably best known for his work with Tony Jaa on Ong-bak and The Protector, and he looks like JJ Abrams. Pinkaew, it’s worth noting, is also the president of the Thai Film Directors’ Association, which seems to contradict the existence of _Elephant White.

Djimon Hounsou is sufficient as Bald Silhouette #1 and, for a total of about five minutes, allows this movie its one triumph of kinetic stroytelling via a sylvan sequence in which Church absorbs some otherworldly power, from space I guess, and speed walks from hapless Thai henchman to hapless Thai henchman. After he slashes open their throats with the calisthenic grace of a Scott Hamilton mid-triple-salchow, the scene turns out to be a dream, but if you’ve been watching that far into the movie, then so is your chance of successfully retrieving the last hour and a half of your life. This one other time Church has a dream that’s kind of like when Zuul is trying to seduce Peter Venkman, but it involves an underaged Thai sex slave that turns out in the end to be an imaginary Thai sex slave who only Church can see.

What I did there was just ruin the movie’s ending…except then Church dies after he realizes he’s been hallucinating the girl, and so now I’ve completely ruined the ending. But what makes this OK, what makes me regret nothing about my decision, is that the movie, if you have watched it or are currently watching it or will watch it as of this moment in your life, is already ruined by that point. Elephant White is ruined by the end of the first sentence Kevin Bacon utters on screen—and it’s a short sentence I think, something like “Oh shit” at seeing Church come running at him full speed. Because Bacon, who looks like Celine Dion, plays Jimmy the Brit, and he sports a British accent.

Not just “British,” but Cockney: slurred and street-hardened and oh so gruff. One of the photos on the DVD case was this:

Kevin Bacon in Elephant White.
"I'm not actually going to fire this, are you kidding?? Can't you see how fragile I am?"

Can you imagine seeing that picture and then reading, “ruthless weapons dealer (Kevin Bacon, ‘Mystic River’),” and thinking, “Why not (Kevin Bacon, ‘Footloose’) or (Kevin Bacon, ‘Hollow Man’) or (Kevin Bacon, ‘The Woodsman,’ ‘Stir of Echoes’)? Why not (Kevin Bacon, ‘Tremors,’ the voice of ‘Balto’)?”—and then hearing Kevin Bacon start talking in a Cockney accent? And that once he says, “Oh shit” or “Blimey!” or whatever, and your brain’s hiccupped, valuable memories of your childhood have been erased, your soul pukes—not out of disgust, but out of ecstasy, out of inviolable incomprehension—you know deep in your heart that you will never, ever hear Kevin Bacon in such a way ever again? That the time is passed, the sensation gone? Do you know what that’s like?

Kevin Bacon.
"Muthafuckin' right / My pockets lookin' kinda tight."

A few weeks ago I saw Suspect Zero, which starred Ben Kingsley, Aaron Eckhart, and Carrie-Ann Moss. The back of the DVD case read:

FBI Agent Tom Mackelway (Aaron Eckhart, “The Core”) was once a rising star in the Bureau, known for an amazing second sight into the criminal mind. Then one unlucky day, Mackelway lost everything: his career, his reputation, even, maybe, his gift. Now Mackelway’s back to basics, on thin ice, half desk-jockey and half reborn rookie, pushing pencils and remembering what it once felt like to be special.

Until Mackelway starts receiving portentous messages from a suspected, ruthless serial killer (Sir Ben Kingsley, “The Wackness”). What’s more, the vicious murderer seems to share Mackelway’s talents, perhaps even eclipse them. In one scene the serial killer starts crying during a Southern Baptist church service, so moved by the gospel singing his ears turn bright red. In another scene a tattered doll lies broken in the rain, discarded by the child who loved her. What do these visions mean?! Meanwhile, as murders pile upon murders, Mackelway must race against the clock to save the next young brunette coed from a fate worse than death and restore the sanity so swiftly exiting him.

From the writer of Elektra and the director of Shadow of the Vampire comes Suspect Zero, a thriller of mind-nullifying proportions.

How do you stop a killer who’s got nothing to lose?

It goes by Suspect Zilch in Germany.

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