Zodiac (2007)

R   |    |  Crime, Drama, Mystery


Zodiac (2007) Poster

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.


7.7/10
447,803

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


1 August 2007 | NumeroOne
6
| As interesting and as tedious as a thirty-year unsolved case
*This comment may contain spoilers, but I tried to be as vague as possible, and I think that this movie actually improves if you more or less know the ending.*

When David Fincher's ZODIAC opens with the year "1969" on the screen, a colorful wide angle shot of California, and a song from "Hair" on the soundtrack, we think we know what we are in for: an atmospheric historical epic. Then the film's first murder happens, and we are at the San Francisco chronicle with Jake Gyllenhall and Robert Downey, Jr., just recognizable enough under their period garb.

We see three other murders or almost-murders within the first 1 1/2 hours of this 2 1/2 hour movie, and they are terrifying in a way that few movie murders are: this is one of the only movies that succeeds at making you identify with the victims, and the murder scenes contain enough gore to be convincing but not so much gore that it becomes its own aesthetic, as in other Fincher films.

But ZODIAC is so long that eventually, the murders fail to keep our attention. The movie makes so many leaps through time and recounts so many investigations that lead nowhere, it is easy to forget that it began as an exciting movie.

One could easily argue that the movie has a right to be so uneventful because it is a "realistic" reflection of police procedure and of, well, reality. It is, but one can't help but think, With all the time-lapsing that goes on (it constantly jumps months ahead in the late '60s and early '70s, and then jumps from '73 to '77 to '83 to '91), why couldn't it skip more boring parts? The movie manages to be both too truncated and too thorough.

On a positive note, the digital cinematography by Harris Savides gives the film a consistently interesting look, which is something that many better movies don't have. He gives the film the signature "Fincher" look: saturated pastels in the daytime and a vague yellow-green tint at night. The movie is visually interesting without being calling too much attention to itself, but it's a shame that there's not enough to watch. The actors are sufficient, but the movie has no protagonist and we don't get to know anyone well enough - not even Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhall), who becomes the de facto main character half way through.

The friendship between Graysmith and Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.) - particularly a bar scene in which Graysmith introduces Avery to the merits of girly drinks - is interesting enough, but when Avery ceases to be a major character, we don't get enough of an indication that Graysmith has a life outside of his obsession with the Zodiac case. That may have been the point, but it doesn't work: there is nothing wrong with a plot that goes nowhere if the characters manage to hold our interest, but they don't hold our interest for all 2 1/2 hours, and the movie itself seems to lose interest in Graysmith towards the end. ZODIAC has no pay-off, which wouldn't be a problem if it weren't such a plot-driven film.

Still, it has its moments that nearly redeem it. It's a bit like a friend who tells long and meandering but enthusiastic stories: once you realize that his stories will always be too long, you can focus on the better parts. But his stories are still too long.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

(At around forty-four minutes) Television host Jim Dunbar mentions Melvin Belli's appearance on Star Trek (1966) in the A.M. San Francisco scene. Belli guest-starred in Star Trek: The Original Series: And the Children Shall Lead (1968), which first aired on October 11, 1968.


Quotes

Mike Mageau: Where have you been? I've been waiting since 7:00.


Goofs

Until the 1980s, Riverside Community College was referred to as Riverside City College but, in April 2018, the sign in front of RCC still says "Riverside City College"


Crazy Credits

The end text reads as follows: Following Mike Mageau's identification of Arthur Leigh Allen, authorities scheduled a meeting to discuss charging him with the murders. Allen suffered a fatal heart attack before this meeting could take place. In 2002, a partial DNA profile, that did not match Allen, was developed from a 33 year-old Zodiac envelope. Investigators in San Francisco and Vallejo refused to rule out Allen as a suspect on the basis of this test. In 2004, the San Francisco Police Department deactivated their Zodiac investigation. Today, the case remains open in Napa County, Solano County, and in the city of Vallejo, where Arthur Leigh Allen is still the prime and only suspect. Inspector David Toschi retired from the San Francisco Police Department in 1989. He was cleared of all charges that he wrote the 1978 Zodiac letter. Paul Avery passed away on December 10, 2000 of pulmonary emphysema. He was 66. His Ashes were scattered by his family in the San Francisco Bay. Robert Graysmith lives in San Francisco and enjoys a healthy relationship with his children. He claims he has not received a single anonymous call since Allen's death.


Alternate Versions

The end credits of the Director's Cut has a more detailed final cast listing. It properly credits many of the actors who were inexplicably left uncredited in the theatrical cut. However, Ione Skye's cameo as Kathleen Johns remains uncredited even in the Director's Cut.


Soundtracks

Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic
Written by
Isaac Hayes and Al Bell (as Alvertis Isabell)
Performed by Isaac Hayes
Courtesy of Stax Records
Under license from Concord Music Group, Inc.

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Crime | Drama | Mystery | Thriller

Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,395,610 4 March 2007

Gross USA:

$33,080,084

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$84,785,914

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