They really should be offering ventilators to every cinema patron who buys a ticket to David Fincher’s new film because, quite frankly, “Zodiac” leaves your breathless.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch, Chloe Sevigny, Ed Setrakian, John Getz, John Terry, Candy Clark, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue

They really should be offering ventilators to every cinema patron who buys a ticket to David Fincher’s new film because, quite frankly, “Zodiac” leaves your breathless.

Granted, Fincher’s been taking our breath away for years – who can forget those torturous final minutes of “Seven” (1995)? – we should be use to it by now and asthmatics should know to save their energy up if they’re planning on checking out his latest exercise in art.

“Zodiac” is about a famed serial killer, why shouldn’t the film take our breath away? To do it’s job properly, it really has to, doesn’t it? It’s a movie that requires audiences to be rattled to the bone and chilled to the knees if it’s to hit home – and it does, big time.

A gloriously detailed and fabulously cast suspense thriller, the film chronicles one of America’s most renowned slayers – San Francisco killer of the late 60s, The Zodiac.
Based on the book by Robert Graysmith, it largely concentrates on the cartoonist cum voluntary private detective’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) obsession with finding out the identity of the unstoppable murderer.

With the assistance of boozehound reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr; as versatile as ever), Graysmith eventually starts to get some answers. Lot a fat good that seems to do him though, what with all the red-tape surrounding the case – and being that he isn’t a cop, that tape’s pretty hard to cut through.

“Zodiac” is “The Departed” of Serial Killer movies – it got just as immense and terrific a cast; it’s as resplendently detailed as Marty’s mega-hit and it’s near (probably just a tad less) just as gripping. In short, it’s a near watertight film. Some may oppose Fincher’s barefaced ‘finger pointing’ and ‘wide-eyed guesses’, but one can’t argue that he’d have enough evidence – based on how meticulous he’s been with the guts of the film – to back up such broad claims. He’s made good use of the facts that are available about the killer.

It’s hard to say what the strongest element of the film is – or whether it’s a combination of all and everything – because everything blends so deliciously well.
James Vanderbilt’s script is responsible for the huge amount of detail (everything you could imagine to take you back to the 60s and 70s has been incorporated) and well-developed characters, or – as may be the case with the latter – it’s to the credit of the director or cast (who are all terrific). Either way, it works.

The only downfall of “Zodiac” is the second-half – not only does it get a big long-winded (it’s quite a long film, running at mins), but it struggles to hold your interest as much as it did in its first half (as the attention turns from the killings themselves to the private lives of the men on the case), if even just slightly. Those with a pretty low threshold for patience will find themselves tested in quite a few spots (a woman at the screening I was at got up afterwards and let everyone know that it was “too damn long”, and also informed the cinema usher, on her way out, too) but others with a woody for the exhaustive and epic will find it an enthralling experience.

Fantastic to see Hollywood can still produce a solid film in-between all the slop.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris