In the late 1960s into the early 1970s Robert Graysmith a San Francisco cartoonist becomes obsessed with the Zodiac Killer and turns amateur detective into the mystery man who terrorises Northern California with his killing, without any real patterns.
Zodiac is a slow burner of a film over the 2 hours and 37 minute running time, but that is actually a massive positive for the film. How when it is that long and takes a while to get going you may ask? The performances and subject matter should not be rushed, it is engaging and quite frankly fantastic.
The film is based on the book Robert Graysmith wrote with his obsession of the case, especially considering no one was ever charged with the murders and found out to be the Zodiac Killer. Although as we see throughout the film a few different suspects are looked into, with one who it really seemed to be. We get an in-depth look at the newspaper people who were sent letters as well as the detectives/police who were all involved in the case.
Inspector David Toschi was the main detective on the case and he really did not want anything to do with Graysmith or the newspapers. Even though his own investigation did not really amount to very much. Paul Avery was deeply involved with the letters coming into the newspaper and part of that side of it all, along with Graysmith.
The San Francisco Chronicle becomes key to the story when they receive a letter a month after a murder. The letter is encrypted and this is where the killer first calls himself the Zodiac, he threatens to kill a dozen people unless it is published in the paper. Graysmith who loves doing puzzles is the one who attempts to decipher it, Avery does not take any of it seriously.
It takes while for Avery to eventually get on board with Graysmith and eventually sharing the information. The taunting letters continue after different murders, the thing is though none of the murders are done in the same manner and therefore makes it very difficult to even decide when his killing started. Could it actually have been many years before all of this? One big scene really leaves you holding your breath as it looks to be going in a very dangerous direction!
With the letters they also have a handwriting expert involved in an attempt to work out who the killer is, although that is something I was always rather dubious about as surely anyone being a serial killer and writing letters would change the way they write to avoid anything being matched? That was one of my thoughts anyway!
Something extremely interesting though is that the case is still open and the release of the film created more interest in it again. As the years pass over during the film this is something that really highlights just how much the killer managed to get away with. Rather frightening when you deeply think about it!
Performance wise I truly believe this is the best I have seen Jake Gyllenhaal (so far) everything about his performance just blows me away and you are well and truly on his side from start to finish. The awkwardness of the character is put across in a very good manner. Mark Ruffalo never seems to disappoint in all the different types of roles he takes on and this one is no different at all. Robert Downey Jr is engaging and impressive, when you think back to 2007 this could certainly been seen as part of his big comeback which is one of the best in Hollywood history. In terms of the more supporting roles Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Brian Cox and Dermot Mulroney are all given decent roles. But the standout has to be John Carroll Lynch who manages to capture the creepiness of his character in spectacular fashion.
A true gem of a film and one that is very important to stick with throughout. I am sure I had tried to watch it in the past and never quite got into it, but don’t worry if you feel that way as when you eventually do get consumed by it you will more than enjoy everything that unfolds. It will also manage to shock you as well with it being based on very true real life events.