Zero Effect (1998)
Steve Arlo: There aren't any GOOD guys. You realize that, don't you? I mean: there aren't EVIL guys, and INNOCENT guys. It's just - it's just... It's just a bunch of guys.
Daryl Zero: Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them.
[On the phone with Zero]
Steve Arlo: Are you telling me you can speak six languages and fly a jetliner but you don't know how to file a tax return?... It's never come up?... Does this have to happen right now?... No, that's a "W-2." "WW2" was the Second World War.
Daryl Zero: I did find one other thing of interest, though.
Steve Arlo: Holy shit, those are the keys. You found the gold Swiss Army knife.
Daryl Zero: I know.
Steve Arlo: And this is the safe deposit box key. Where'd you find them?
Daryl Zero: They were in the sofa, under the cushion.
Steve Arlo: What?
Daryl Zero: They were stuck in the couch in his office.
Steve Arlo: Was he hiding them there? Is that possible?
Daryl Zero: Not possible. That's where they fell out of his pocket, over a year ago.
Steve Arlo: So... what do you make of this?
Daryl Zero: I think that just as I feared, Ms. Sullivan doesn't know a thing about these keys.
Steve Arlo: Wait - the keys are a coincidence?
Daryl Zero: Yes.
Steve Arlo: That's - confusing.
Daryl Zero: Yep.
Steve Arlo: Doesn't seem like a good thing.
Daryl Zero: Sure it is. It's good because the man has been looking for his keys for a *year*. And I've found them.
Steve Arlo: I'll shoot you. Really, I will. I have a gun and everything.
Gloria Sullivan: When your number's up, it's up. There's no sense to it. There's no justice. Innocent people suffer and murderers get away with it. So when my number's up, whether I'm walking down the street or doing something else, that will be that. You know, you, me, anyone could walk out of here and get killed by some drunk in a pick-up truck. I could slip in the shower and break my neck.
Steve Arlo: [talking about his employer, Daryl Zero] I'm telling you he never even leaves the house, okay. I mean he's like some kind of recluse. Complete freak. No social life. In fact, no social skills. It's a strange fucking thing. When he's working, the smoothest operator you've ever seen. Brave, slick, cunning, can do anything. Soon as he gets off work, it's all gone. Afraid to go to the dry cleaners. Literally. Too uncomfortable in his own skin to go out and eat. Tactless and inept. Rude, too. Just an asshole.
Steve Arlo: I don't think he's ever kissed a girl. He's like 30-something years old.
Daryl Zero: I can't possibly overstate the importance of good research. Everyone goes through life dropping crumbs. If you can recognize the crumbs, you can trace a path all the way back from your death certificate to the dinner and a movie that resulted in you in the first place. But research is an art, not a science, because anyone who knows what they're doing can find the crumbs, the wheres, whats, and whos. The art is in the whys: the ability to read between the crumbs, not to mix metaphors. For every event, there is a cause and effect. For every crime, a motive. And for every motive, a passion. The art of research is the ability to look at the details, and see the passion.
Daryl Zero: I always say that the essence of my work relies fundamentally on two basic principles: objectivity and observation, or "the two obs" as I call them. My work relies on my ability to remain absolutely, purely objective, detached. I have mastered the fine art of detachment. And while it comes at some cost, this supreme objectivity is what makes me, I dare say, the greatest observer the world has ever known.
Daryl Zero: Passion is the enemy of precision. Forget the misnomer 'crime of passion'. All crime is passionate. It's passion that moves the criminal to act, to disrupt the static inertia of morality. The client's passion for this dead woman had facilitated his downfall. And the blackmailer's passion will facilitate hers. When you live with no passion at all, other people's passion come into glaring relief.
Daryl Zero: A few words here about following people. People know they're being followed when they turn around and see someone following them. They can't tell they're being followed if you get there first.
Daryl Zero: When you spend enough time around the chemistry of desperation, you come to recognize the smell. One desperate element is combustible. More than one desperate element is lethal.
Daryl Zero: I've been awake for three days. Three... Just love those amphetamines. Got to love them. Got to.
Steve Arlo: Sounds healthy.
Daryl Zero: It's good for my skin. You know if you do enough of that stuff over a very short period of time, you get, like, these canker sores on your tongue.
Daryl Zero: My father was an evil, abusive man. And he killed my mother when she was sleeping. And then he slit his wrists, when I was thirteen. I don't talk about that much. I used to when it happened and then one day I woke up and, I don't know. Everything was different.
Daryl Zero: [instructions to Gloria Sullivan] Keep moving every few months. Stay out of Westernized countries for a while. Don't carry too much cash on your body. Give incorrect information everywhere, and never use your real name.
Steve Arlo: He can tell you where you were born, how old your mother was at the time, and what you had for breakfast, all within 30 seconds of meeting you.
Steve Arlo: Why are we talking on the phone?
Daryl Zero: I told you. We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport... talking? It's a little fishy.
Steve Arlo: $5 million, so you can kill someone right away instead of a day later.
Gregory Stark: No, no. For $5 million, you do it.
Steve Arlo: It's an uncompromising standard of his practice. He never meets any of his clients. He doesn't speak with them, or, for that matter, communicate in any direct fashion. That's his policy. But I am his sole representative and he is my only employer; and as such, I have full authorization to speak on his behalf on all his matters of business. I have with me a signed letter to that effect. He doesn't negotiate his fee. He works at a flat rate. Under some unusual circumstances, he'll work pro bono - never in between.
Steve Arlo: He can elicit a confession from a criminal without their realizing they're being questioned.
Gregory Stark: How does he do it?
Steve Arlo: He has a deeply nuanced and thoroughly functional understanding of human behavior to rival the great psychoanalytical minds of our time. He understands the criminal mind as well as the innocent mind, the stable mind as well as the psychotic, sociopathic mind. The male, as well as the female.
Gregory Stark: You can't buy silence. You can only rent it. So if someone has something on you, they are always going to have it. So the cost has no ceiling. And the fear has no end to it. That's why some knowledge, some information is like a terminal disease. It's contagious and it's fatal.
[They are talking about Stark]
Steve Arlo: You know, there's a pretty severe lack of information problem here. And he won't say much.
Daryl Zero: [rasping, like a Raymond Chandler tough guy] What's wrong with these people?
Steve Arlo: I told him, there's no use lying to you. Eventually, you always figure it out. It's just slowing things down.
Daryl Zero: Did you tell him about the case of the guy who lied about his age?
Steve Arlo: [obviously lying] Of course.
Daryl Zero: Was he impressed?
Steve Arlo: Mm-hmm.
Daryl Zero: Really impressed?
Steve Arlo: Fuckin' flabbergasted.
Steve Arlo: Wait a minute. Are you telling me that, instead of calling me, you had me fly up here so you could tell me to go straight back to the computer - and then fly back again tonight?
Daryl Zero: Yeah, well, it wasn't an emergency. There was no reason to risk the long-distance lines.
Daryl Zero: They listen, you know.
Gloria Sullivan: Alright, you're an accountant, so you would know: what is the Corrodium 3 Deduction?
Daryl Zero: The Corrodium 3 Deduction... That's a very good question because that, in fact, is probably the most widely misunderstood deduction in the book.
Gloria Sullivan: Really?
Daryl Zero: Indeed. The Corrodium 3 Deduction is an incentive used by large manufacturers who can limit their use of Class 3 decay toxins such as corrodium and... malgorium. Anything else?
Gloria Sullivan: [shakes her head]
Daryl Zero: After investigating her, I found myself in better shape than ever before in my life. To me, she will always be a singular unforgettable event, the only time I ever took leave of my objectivity. Perhaps the most able blackmailer of her time, she was at once the worthiest opponent and the greatest ally, and the only woman I have ever... the only woman, period. And though I never would've anticipated it, in the end she did for me what I have done for so many: help solve a problem, first by observation, then by careful intervention - in other words, the Zero Effect.