Anthony's Film Review
A true crime story brought to the big screen, both fast-paced and intriguing...
Whereas London had Jack the Ripper, the Bay Area in California had its own crime legend. A mysterious serial killer only known as the Zodiac terrorized people in the 1960s and 1970s in Northern California. The killer's random spree spanned cities that included Vallejo, San Francisco, and Napa. It's fascinating and scary enough that a few movies have been based off of this. This 2007 version is the latest, and it is a chilling and realistic retelling of the events. For me, the main reason I felt the suspense isn't really the film itself but the fact that I myself am a California native and know most of the cities depicted in the film.
The two occupations most familiar with a murder scene are the police and the press. The main characters in Zodiac are David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), inspector for the San Francisco Police Department, and Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle who becomes fascinated enough with the case to investigate it himself. The actors do a decent job in their roles. I'm not complaining too much about that. Even so, it's not the film's strongest point.
It excels more on the plot and its pacing, which is more appropriate and essential for this kind of suspense story. There is a lot to cover about the Zodiac killer. As a result, the film is two and a half hours long and also involves fast pacing to speed through events that in real life occurred days to months apart. It still goes slow enough for the audience to absorb details of the mystery just as the characters are. If you love mystery and crime stories, this film will provide just that.
The first two-thirds builds up suspense nicely with a simple murder in the beginning and escalating to a regional scare among Californians. The last third is quite nice because true crime mysteries can prove to be misleading, confusing, and even disappointing despite the adrenaline rush with being so close to the truth. The ending didn't disappoint and provided enough of a resolution for me to consider it satisfactory.
Overall, Zodiac tells a true story in the most truthful way possible. For those who are young or not from Northern California, this film recreates the events as they happened, providing an experience very much like what people back then remember during the Zodiac's reign of terror. This is why I think the film is quite an enjoyable experience.
For more information about Zodiac, visit the Internet Movie Database.