Zodiac is an engrossing true life account of the men who dedicated their lives tracking down the infamous Zodiac killer, who held California in a state of fear for many years, using the media to gloat about his crimes and taunt the police who to this day have yet to arrest or identify him.
Based on the books written by former San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), the movie follows the investigations launched by Graysmith, former San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and police detective’s David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo). As each man becomes possessed with identifying the serial killer they are faced with numerous obstacles, constant rejection and in some cases threats towards their lives.
Director David Fincher – who had entered this territory before with the exceptional Se7en – has crafted an absorbing crime thriller in spite of its long running time with thanks to screenwriter James Vanderbilt’s extremely informative, intelligent and at times humorous screenplay.
The films commitment to detail has created many tense and gripping sequences as the viewer is shown in stark, disturbing frankness how the Zodiac killer committed his atrocities and whom they were done to.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays naïve very well and Robert Downey Jr.’s quirky charm works a treat, the only thing going against him si that he departs from the screen far too early. Mark Ruffalo is great as the burnt out cop, while Anthony Edwards, Elias Coteas and Brian Cox provide fine supporting performances.
Costume, set design and soundtrack successfully transports the viewer back to a turbulent time of change and civil unrest within America, only to be made worse by the emergence of a madman who captured the publics dread and curiosity.
This is the type of film that will leave the viewer guessing “just who is the Zodiac?” upon its conclusion. The frustrations felt by the police, journalists and indeed the public at that time is shared by the viewer, due to the overwhelming contradictory evidence accumulated over the years and presented on screen which leads to more questions than answers.
Bu what is assured is that Zodiac is a great film that many true crime buffs would love due to the treatment given to the subject and that many movie fans will admire thanks to David Fincher’s direction and the performances of its cast.