A serial killer in the San Fransisco area taunts police with his letters and coded messages. His eccentric ways capture the interest of San Fransisco Chronicle cartoonist, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal). His own quirkiness irritates co-worker Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), but the two become good friends due to their shared interest in the case. Both men lose a lot because of their devotion to the mystery; Paul spirals into drunken oblivion, and Robert puts the so-called ‘Zodiac killer’ before his wife, kids and his job, instead spending his time chasing all possible leads to achieve all that seemingly matters to him – catching the Zodiac.
In my quest to watch all things Gyllenhaal, Zodiac was obviously going to be watched when it came on TV here. Whilst it is an offering presented to us by director David Fincher who seems to love tales of master criminals having also brought us Se7en and Gone Girl, and Jake is an absolute darling in it, I don’t think Zodiac is a film I will be rushing to see for a second time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good film and I would recommend you watch it, but for me, it’s not a film I could sit and spend two and a half hours viewing again next week. It was just a bit too much of a slow burner for me to want to re-watch it again that quickly.
Performances, however, were very good. Gyllenhaal was his usual wonderful self, really throwing himself into the role as he always does. As Robert, you could sense the thrill and excitement the Zodiac brought to his otherwise rather mundane life. Once he had gotten the taste for such adrenaline, Robert couldn’t let go – he was addicted. Gyllenhaal made that clear to audiences in the way that Robert constantly pestered everyone about the case. He gave Robert a physical appearance that seemed forever pre-occupied as though his brain didn’t turn off for a second in case he missed a clue to the Zodiac’s identity.
Downey Jr. as Paul was also very good. I find Downey Jr. to be a very charismatic actor and he brings real wit to most of his roles, something that I have come to admire him for. That wit made a number of appearances in Zodiac and I was very happy to see that. It made for some rather entertaining moments throughout the film in the exchanges between Paul and Robert. Paul’s sarcasm and dry humour went straight over Robert’s head most of the time and this was just very funny to watch.
Zodiac was adopted from the real Robert Graysmith’s book of the same name and case files that had been put together over the many years the investigation into the murders took place. The story was good, however as I mentioned before, it’s probably sot something that you’ll want to sit through again for a while. It’s all just a bit too heavy to want to watch over again immediately after the first sitting, and given the nature of the plot line, your brain doesn’t switch off because you then sit there trying to figure out possible identities for the Zodiac.
All in all, you might want to go ahead and watch Zodiac. It is a classic David Fincher film and so you already know it’s going to be a good serial killer movie, even if it’s a bit hard-going.