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Review (7/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

Zodiac is the movie based on the real-life killer who gave himself the same name. The Zodiac Killer terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area for the better part of the late 1960's and well into the 70's, sending letters to various newspaper outlets that taunted them and claimed his identity was hidden in at least one of his coded letters. He would make threats, claim he was going to go on killing sprees, predict who he was going to murder next and confirm intimate details of many of his previous murders. In the end, although he claimed to have killed almost three dozen people, only five victims were actually linked to Zodiac. The movie takes us into the lives of a handful of people who became so caught up with catching the elusive serial killer that it affected their personal lives - through lost jobs, drug and alcohol abuse and ruined marriages.

Amongst those we get to meet are Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) who, at one point, was accused of writing one of the Zodiac letters and was subsequently demoted from his job; Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), the crime reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, who the Zodiac Killer would sometimes mention by name in his letters as his next target and a man who eventually submitted himself to years of drug and alcohol addiction; and finally, Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), a cartoonist for the Chronicle who became so obsessed with solving the Zodiac murders that it cost him his marriage. He ended up writing a book called Zodiac and the movie would have us believe that he did solve the murders. Sadly, we will never know.

I found Zodiac to be a very interesting movie that I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I have to say that the fact it is based on a true story made it very compelling. It was so intriguing watching how the murders unfolded, how they affected so many people and how the police could just not catch this kook. We are introduced to suspect after suspect and led to believe that there was more than one person who could have actually been the real serial killer. Obviously by the end of the movie, all the facts do seem to point to one person who, if the facts are right, probably was the Zodiac Killer.

Unfortunatley, if you are looking for a movie with some guy running around slicing open a dozen innocent people and sending taunting letters to the newspaper, this movie probably isn't for you. You should probably think of renting Friday the 13th or something like that instead of seeing Zodiac. It's more a movie about the murders, the letters, the mystery and their effects. There are a tonne of character actors who appear in this movie, a lot of those actors that you recognize, you've seen them in a lot of movies but have no idea what movie or who they are. Besides the people mentioned above, there are also appearances by Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny and apparently Brian Cox (although I have to be honest, I don't remember him being in the movie). There's a lot going on in Zodiac and to be honest, there were times I found myself confused when they were mentioning name after name and when certain characters seemed to appear out of nowhere and then disappear just as quickly. That would probably be my biggest problem with the movie. Even the 2 1/2 hour running time really didn't bother me. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't notice the movie's length - it's kind of hard not to notice a 2 1/2 hour movie. But it wasn't as painful as you would think. The movie had a pretty good flow to it and did a decent job of keeping the interest level high. There are even a few eerily frightening scenes, especially the part where Graysmith goes to interview a possible witness and ends up alone in the basement with the guy. I was totally creeped out by this scene. Gave me a chill up the old spine.

In the end, Zodiac is not a movie that is going to make everyone happy. Being a David Fincher movie, too many movie fans seem to be expecting the next Se7en or the next Fight Club. That may never happen. For me, Zodiac was a fascinating movie about a real-life serial killer who the San Francisco police were never able to catch. Really, anyone looking to go on a killing spree should probably consider moving to California. First Zodiac. Then O.J. Didn't Robert Blake get off? The guy who ended up being the number one Zodiac suspect had so much evidence against him, it seems more than O.J. did? The only thing he didn't do was say "Yep, ya caught me, I'm the Zodiac Killer." But he may as well have. But how things stand now, we may never know what really happened. Perhaps Fincher's movie is the final chapter to this mystery. I know I left the theatre pretty sure that I know what happened.


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