A true crime thriller is the new film genre to sweep movie theaters. So far we’ve seen the Black Dahlia and the story behind George Reeves death get immortalized in movies. This time around a respected director who is known for his gritty crime thrillers returns to the screen to tell the greatest unsolved crime spree in history. While “Zodiac” is a gritty, psychological drama it tries a bit too hard to squeeze the entire history of the Zodiac into one film.
“Zodiac” tells the true story of the serial killer only known as the Zodiac who terrorized the Northern California/San Francisco region in the late 60s/70s. As the killer keeps murdering he slowly drives two detectives played by Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards to their breaking points. Zodiac also intrigues reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) into trying to discover his identity, along with political cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal). As these various lives intertwine, they all join together to try to find out who this elusive killer really is.
David Fincher is truly an amazing director. Anybody who remembers “Se7en” or “Fight Club” knows that this is a director who truly delves into his subject matter. At a little under three hours “Zodiac” is incredibly comprehensive in telling the entire story of the Zodiac murders. The film also starts off, literally with a bang, showing the first set of murders in amazing detail. Fincher is also perfect at scene setting. I watched this film with my mother and she was able to remember exact details that were shown in the film and said that it really looked like San Francisco in the 70’s. While in the trailer it is mostly depicted as Gyllenhaal’s film, “Zodiac” does a great job of spreading the two hours amongst all the cast members. There is really no “main character” in “Zodiac.”
While “Zodiac” is quite the crime thriller it can become incredibly tedious at times. At 2 hours and 40 minutes it does try to include every little thing into it. I highly recommend going to the bathroom before the movie since there is a lot of detail you don’t want to miss. While a lot of players are involved in this movie, a couple characters tend to get pushed by the wayside. Chloe Sevigny, playing Graysmith’s wife is one of those characters that seems very slapped in. She seems very out of place amongst all the crime.
Jake Gyllenhall gives another great performance in the role of writer Robert Graysmith. While in the movie he doesn’t seem like he’s a major player, he is quite compelling when he’s the focus of the scene. He gives a very subdued performance that is quite amazing to watch. A standout in the cast though has to come from Robert Downey Jr. as San Francisco Chronicle writer, Paul Avery. Avery is one of those quirky characters that you love to watch on screen and Downey Jr. is able to pull it off. Mark Ruffalo also turns in a rare great performance as Inspector David Toschi. Ruffalo is able to show how the character falls into a silent insanity trying to capture Zodiac.
While “Zodiac” is an incredibly long movie, it is a quality one. With a story that is still interesting cops and citizens alike to this day, David Fincher hits one out of the park. Look for “Zodiac” to possibly be remembered come Oscar time.