Mark Barrett’s review published on Letterboxd :
Looks like I've had a bit of a lull in my reviewing! Time to get back to business. Last nights film was Zodiac, directed by the highly rated David Fincher. Well highly rated by some anyway, I'm not sure I'd put any of his films into my all time favourites list, and found one of his most highly rated films 'Fight Club' decent but overhyped. Anyway, I'm waffling - here's the basic plot.
Zodiac tells the true story behind the murders committed by a notorious serial killer known as "Zodiac" who killed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It's probably the most famous unsolved crime to date. The killer murders several people in total in unprovoked attacks. He sends several letters to the police and the media commenting on his acts and leaving them ciphers. One particular journalist - or rather a cartoonist - becomes engrossed in looking for clues and trying to solve the case. The film covers quite a number of years and sometimes jumps several uneventful years before the next plot point. By this time, the police have mainly moved onto other things however the cartoonist has made it his lifes obsession. He will not quit trying to solve the crime that nobody else can solve.
This is a very long film - 2 hours and 40 minutes - which requires some endurance when watching late at night. However to be fair I was engaged throughout and I've seen much shorter films that felt longer. One of the main things that impressed me with this movie was the attention to detail and enough clues were about to get your own brain ticking over trying to solve the case before anyone onscreen did. Apparently David Fincher, screenwriter James Vanderbilt, and producer Brad Fischer spent 18 months conducting their own investigation and research into the Zodiac murders - and it showed!
This is a film full of old fashioned suspense and plays along in a methodical and almost clinical fashion. It was like a very detailed and meticulously planned out whodunnit but minus the reveal. It's paced extremely well, slow and deliberate, just the right amount of complexity, and always taking a good grip of your attention. The set designs are all very good and some great outdoors shots too, minimising vivid colours and emphasising the browns and the greys thereby creating a dark, moody, and atmospheric feel.
The acting all round was professional and competent with plenty of familiar faces on show. The standouts for me were Jake Gyllenhaal who did a great job as the obsessed cartoonist who just couldn't rest and felt a need to complete his task to completion at the expense of anything else. And also John Carroll Lynch who despite having a much lesser part, was extremely memorable in his role as one of the suspects, and a creepy one at that. I'd have banged him up in jail anyway regardless of his innocence. On the downside, I wasn't keen at all on Robert Downey Jnrs character who spent most of the time mumbling with a cigarette in his mouth. Very hard to tell what he was saying at times.
Anyway, all in all a good nights viewing and a good solid film. 8/10 from me.