Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr.
Director: David Fincher
Running Time: 157 mins
Zodiac is an American film about the true story of a newspaper cartoonist who became obsessed with the crimes of the Zodiac killer, trying to track down the serial murderer even after all those around him has given up the case.
Masterfully dramatising an incredibly complex true story, Zodiac provides ominous and gripping drama and intrigue throughout, making it likely one of the most fascinating and exciting crime thrillers you’ve seen in a long time. With expert direction from David Fincher, a pitch-perfect screenplay and excellent performances across the board, it’s an enthralling work that will have you hooked for every minute of its two and a half hours.
Given that Zodiac is such a long film and is so rich with detail and depth, there’s a lot to talk about. However, the most interesting place to start is how director David Fincher handles the adaptation of this true-life crime story.
The legacy of the Zodiac killer is incredibly complex and ambiguous to this day, so taking a story so steeped in mystery and turning it into such a detailed, intricate thriller is no mean feat. In that vein, Fincher – unlike his other most acclaimed thrillers – brings a strong sense of realism to the table here.
Zodiac doesn’t have the jaw-dropping spectacle of Se7en or the delirious thrills and spills of Gone Girl. Instead, it’s more of a moody true crime drama that plays on the facts and details to deliver intrigue and excitement, even if it’s not a non-stop rollercoaster ride.
Though it kicks off at a surprising pace, Zodiac is a generally slow-moving film. Its attention to detail leaves no stone unturned as it attempts to contribute to the legacy of the hunt for this infamous killer, with a patient yet immensely captivating retracing of the main clues and threads of investigation at the height of the Zodiac killer’s crimes.
With a cast that brings to life differing views on the killer and how to track him down, Zodiac has a wide-ranging perspective on this history, as Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. all share the screen in search of the truth.
What’s more, the film’s screenplay is perfectly balanced between pure murder mystery and a wider, more relevant look at the role of news media in justice, as well as the longevity of even the most serious criminal cases. After all, once the biggest news hype surrounding the story dies down, it becomes immensely more difficult to advance in the investigation.
In that, Zodiac has everything that makes a great crime thriller, and more. It’s a gripping, exciting and at times devastating and hard-hitting watch, complete with powerful atmosphere, brilliant direction, a strong screenplay and excellent performances.
The truth of the film’s story is enormously complex and difficult to pin down objectively, so the way in which David Fincher is able to make this film so consistently gripping, as well as so brilliantly detailed, is nothing short of a masterstroke. So, that’s why I’m giving Zodiac an 8.3 overall.