The true story of the investigation of the "Zodiac Killer", a serial killer who terrified the San Francisco Bay Area, taunting police with his ciphers and letters. The case becomes an obsession for three men as their lives and careers are built and destroyed by the endless trail of clues.
Peerless precision from Fincher.
I have seen it written that this film shows that Fincher had grown up, and whilst I understand that train of thought, it simply isn't true. What Fincher has done is give a true story his meticulous care and standard deft precision by leaving no stone unturned. We get simply one of the (if not thee) best films to deal with the investigating process of a high profile serial killer, a film that as a character study is actually essential viewing in the pantheon of genre productions.
The devilish greatness of this film is in the fact that it can't pay off with a pandering mainstream ending, the makers are telling a true story and any sort of research will lead viewers to the fact that there is no twist here, no joyous ticket selling round of applause at this ending, it is what it is, frustratingly brilliant. The case the film is about consumes all involved with it, and to see how it affects those involved is engrossing (yet sad) because if the viewer is so inclined to jump on board then it will consume you as well, the film and the actors within demand you see this for the affecting character piece it is.
The acting here gives me hope that classic acting is alive and well in this generation, I was once not enamoured with Mark Ruffalo in his early days as an actor, but here he puts such heartfelt verve into the role of David Toschi I felt I need to send him a written apology!. Robert Downey Junior is joyous as Paul Avery, all 60s chic and swagger without tipping over the edge of the mountain caricature (both men to become future Avengers of course). Yet surprisingly to me I found that it is Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith who is the film's key axis, the central heartbeat, with a performance that demands undivided attention, a performance brought about by Fincher's quest for perfection from everything to do with film making. Gyllenhaal hated working on the film, he hated Fincher's work ethic, but in time he must now look back and see that here the director coaxed out a performance that has in time been seen as not only great, but also beneficial to his career (hello Nightcrawler).
This is not Se7en 2, and British film mags like Empire should have known better than to use that tag line to get the readers' attention, because fans of serial killer thrillers need not apply here, fans of outstanding cinema about the human psyche during the pursuit of a serial killer - Well get in line folks, for this is one of the best movies of the decade. 10/10
Paramount, Phoenix Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures by David Fincher, James Vanderbilt, Robert Graysmith.
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards.
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Keywords: california san francisco, california killing journalist newspaper 1970s mass murder planned murder embassy victim threat to death code police murder serial killer reporter 1960s
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