Zodiac – A Film Review

This film was directed by David Fincher, whose only other film I have seen is Seven.  It is based on the true story of the hunt for a serial killer who terrorised California in the late 1960’s and remained notorious and at large for many years.  The Zodiac is not the central character in this story, the film portrays the obsession of individuals who set out to prove the identity of the killer.  Specifically the film focuses on the preoccupation of a newspaper cartoonist and his desire to find the Zodiac, at the cost of his family and his job.  I think this character is played by Jake Gyllenhaal, although for me it is Robert Downey Jr who steals most of the scenes with his portrayal of a drunken, hack and his fall from grace into despair and loneliness.

The crimes were committed when forensic science was in its infancy, there are few clues to go on and the lack of a co-ordinated police effort hampers the pursuit of the perpetrator.  At various points in the film, you are given the impression that the net is closing in but each time the investigations lead you up a blind alley.  To this end the film was a little frustrating, it lacked the clean, no fuss storyline of a CSI TV episode, but I guess that was the point.  Real life crime is nothing like television and this film depicted the hunt for the killer with a degree of realism.  The Californian police are not like Mounties – they don’t always get their man.  The main detective on the case reminded me of Columbo, perhaps a deliberate attempt by the Director to contrast the police investigation in this movie with the more predictable denouement associated with the standard fayre on TV.

The film certainly had me interested, not fascinated but interested enough not to notice that the best part of 160 minutes had passed before the lights came up.

Overall, an OK way to spend an afternoon, but not enough dinosaurs for my liking.

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