The opening of this film promises great things, and the attachment of Michael Bay in the producers' team seems to as well, after his involvement with a stream of high calibre horror remakes in the last ten years. However, the opening scene's dramatic promise throttles back to a gritty, moody and downbeat film, where a relentlessly depressed and astoundingly craggy Quaid constantly feels on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion.
While the discovery of the first body is dramatic and interestingly handled, the film then makes the odd choice to vary very little, its only surprises being the character twists and revelations. It also sets out its stall a bit too clearly and predictably. We're told fairly early on how many victims to expect, and how they're likely to be dispatched, and this doesn't help the tension. The audience also can't help wondering why Quaid spends so much time interviewing one suspect again and again who clearly has no willingness to tell him anything useful and revels in using the meetings to overperform and taunt him. To say much more would be to give the plot away as several crucial twists happen fairly early.
However, all the main roles are acted very well, and the film's main flaw is its structure and reasoning. The motives for some of the murders, when they're revealed, make very little sense. The identity of the ringleader is also bizarre, as while well acted again, it's entirely unbelievable that this person would hurt someone, let alone orchestrate and ringlead a spree of multiple murders. We're also supposed to believe that the ending could have a far wider ranging effect, but this never feels remotely believable due to a clumsy set-up with no background.
It's a strange film. For most of the time you'll be fairly entertained by its interesting if sombre tone, and well acted characters. And then it ends so suddenly that you feel the ending has been messed up by the editors. Rarely have I felt so puzzled by the rapidity of an ending or so thrown by the apparently unconvincing lack of sense it made. Nowhere near as Biblically dramatic and large-scale as it's made out to be, but not a bad (far) smaller scale police thriller either.