Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith
Mark Ruffalo as David Toschi
Robert Downey, Jr. as Paul Avery
Anthony Edwards as SFPD Inspector William Armstrong
Brian Cox as Melvin Belli
Elias Koteas as Sgt. Jack Mulanax
Donal Logue as Captain Ken Narlow
John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Allen
Dermot Mulroney as Captain Marty Lee
Director: David Fincher
Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cartoonist who works for the San Francisco Chronicle. His quirky ways irritate Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), a reporter whose drinking gets in the way of doing his job. The two become friends thanks to a shared interest: the Zodiac killer. Graysmith steadily becomes obsessed with the case, as Avery’s life spirals into drunken oblivion. Graysmith’s amateur sleuthing puts him onto the path of David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), a police inspector who has thus far failed to catch his man; Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting expert; Linda del Buono, a convict who knew one of the Zodiac’s victims; and others. Graysmith’s job, his wife and his children all become unimportant next to the one thing that really matters: catching the Zodiac.
By 2007, David Fincher was already a well received director with film like Se7en and Fight Club. When it comes to his films, Zodiac is one of his most underrated and it also might just be his best. Fantastically well-paced, greatly and efficiently written and brilliantly acted by its cast, Zodiac is a captivating and fantastic movie that is finally receiving the love and acclaim that it deserves over a decade after its release.
Zodiac also takes place throughout the 60s and 70s and many moments jump to different moments (like weeks, months and years later), it really spans over quite a large amount of time. The mystery itself is fascinating. It’s not just the mystery that’s interesting though, it’s also the people investigating and obsessing over it, particularly Gyllenhaal, Downey and Ruffalo’s characters. Fincher really does a great job at making you as obsessed with finding the identity of the Zodiac Killer as our protagonists here. The movie really gets better and better the more it progresses. The part where two characters near the end seem to piece together what may have happened is really satisfying. The movie isn’t quite like Fincher’s other serial killer movie, Se7en, it’s certainly not as dark and grotesque. However, all the events that you see really happened, which you could argue could make this film more disturbing. Also, unlike Se7en or Fincher’s other serial killer movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’s never clear who the actual killer is. There is a theory and a strong implication by the end of the movie but that’s it. This movie is Fincher’s longest to date, around 2 hours and 40 minutes, this is possibly why Zodiac isn’t as popular as some of his other films like Se7en. There is a lot to take in and you have to really be into a mood to sit down for over 150 minutes to watch an investigation of a serial killer, for me it really did it for me.
The whole cast of Zodiac do well in their roles. Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo are particularly great in the movie with Gyllenhaal as a cartoonist, Downey as a reporter and Ruffalo as a cop. All of them are obsessed with finding the Zodiac killer, and they convey their real life characters convincingly. Gyllenhaal’s performance here is particularly overlooked, he really carries with him this silent obsession that he shows with such subtlety that was effective. We are really seeing the movie from his eyes and we becomes as obsessed with the case of the Zodiac Killer as Jake’s character Robert Graysmith. Downey was also great here, with his character going through some more blatant changes as the case of the Zodiac progresses. Ruffalo also proves himself once again as being yet another one of the best underappreciated talents working today. They all give some of the best performances of their career. All the supporting cast were quite good but if there’s one who stands out, it’s John Caroll Lynch as a primary suspect in the Zodiac case. He is so unnerving in all his scenes and is very memorable, even within his small screentime.
David Fincher’s movies always look great and Zodiac in no exception, his direction of this film is immaculate and full of detail. Most of this film is focussed on the investigation of the murders and the mystery by our 3 main characters and Fincher really did a great job at showcasing it. The cinematography by Harris Savides was also great. The intense scenes (most of them consisting of the Zodiac killings being shown) are handled very well. A certain basement scene also stands out at being very creepy, Fincher handled the tension and the unsettledness perfectly. David Fincher also uses CGI effectively to enhance the scenes to make it look better. I wouldn’t know that he was using it just from watching the movie, it’s been released for over a decade long and nothing indicated that CGI was being used. The music from David Shire was also quite effective.
Zodiac in an underrated and fantastic film that I think everyone should see at least once. It is a long movie, full of detail and it’s a lot to take in, so it’s not an easy movie to just watch, you have to really be in the mood to watch it. However, having seen it a few times now, I can’t help but love it every time. Fincher’s attention to detail is absolutely incredible. On top of that, the performances (particularly from Gyllenhaal, Downey and Ruffalo) were great. It’s probably Fincher’s best put together movie in all honesty and having seen almost all of his films, it might just be his best movie yet, which is really saying a lot. Zodiac is one of my favourite films and it gets better the more I watch it.