Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
About murder in the Bible
|Featuring||Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain), Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, Chloë Sevigny|
“Fight Club,” “Se7en,” “Panic Room”
|Producer||Louis M. Phillips, Jamie Vanderbilt, Mike Medavoy|
|Distributor||Paramount Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures|
“There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer.”
I honestly cannot remember the last time I thought a whole lot about movie editing. It must be a rather difficult job, taking hours and hours of scenes and working your magic to put together a seamless movie that flows just right. It also seems like a rather thankless job, as I imagine very, very few people could come up with the top names in film editing today. Well, whoever those top editors are, it would be hard to believe they were editing David Fincher’s latest film, the tortoise-paced detective drama “Zodiac.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking that “Zodiac” is going to be anything like Fincher’s other films “Se7en,” “Fight Club,” or “Panic Room.” “Zodiac” is based on the true story of the Zodiac killer who terrorized California in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Because it is based on a true story, Fincher only goes by the facts of the case, and seems to leave most of the usual artistic interpretation at the door.
As the film opens, we see the Zodiac take some of his first victims, a couple getting set for a romantic encounter on lover’s lane. He then calls in the murder to the police, beginning a game of cat and mouse with the police detectives that will last for years. He also sends letters to the three area newspapers in Northern California, telling them to print the letters on the front page, or more people will die. With the letters he also sends in a code, telling them that whoever cracks the code will be able to reveal his identity. This sparks the interest of Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), a San Francisco newspaper cartoonist with a knack for decoding puzzles.
The paper’s crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downy Jr.) also dives head first into the story, hoping to work alongside the detectives on the case in order to find the killer. Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Inspector William Armstrong are the men assigned the case, and they work tirelessly, devoting all their time in search of any kind of lead or clue that will give them a jump on the case. As time passes the Zodiac continues killing, but in ways usually always different then the time before, keeping the police baffled as to what his next move will be. Eventually, leads begin to trail away, suspects get exonerated by evidence, and departments begin devoting less time to finding the killer. Graysmith continues his obsession into the case, and slowly begins finding clues that had once been overlooked.
The content in “Zodiac” is typical for this kind of film. There are a few bloody, frightening scenes of murder in the beginning of the movie. The second murder scene involving a couple at a lake is particularly disturbing, but is thankfully not all that graphic. There is some strong language in the film, but I must admit I expected there to be more. There are enough profane uses of the name of Jesus Christ to offend Christians in the audience. There is very little sexual content and no nudity to speak of. There is one scene where the detectives are searching through a suspect’s house and find a couple of porn magazines, but we only see the covers briefly, and I honestly couldn’t make anything out. That’s not to say it wasn’t there, I just couldn’t see it. The subject matter alone, though, is enough to keep children and teenagers away. This is an adult drama, and parents should be very cautious if they are considering allowing their children to see the film.
Anyone expecting a serial killer thriller will likely be disappointed by “Zodiac”. It isn’t so much of a thriller as it is a drama focusing on the hard work and years of frustration that can go into a manhunt. But, I must admit, while I wasn’t expecting a serial killer thriller, I was disappointed anyway by the end result because “Zodiac” is simply a flat movie. The film is very, very long and could have used another couple editing jobs to make it more tolerable. This wouldn’t have hurt the film, or its flow, it actually would have benefited from it. There are at least a good 30 minutes that could have been cut from the film, and we would not have missed them. The performances are also disappointing considering the incredible cast that is assembled. All the performances strike the same drab hum-drum note and are never very engaging. We don’t really get to know the characters hunting the killer until later in the film, when we no longer really care and simply want to see what happens in the chase for the Zodiac. And the ending seems thrown together at the last minute, as if they had to get the film out but weren’t quite sure how to conclude it. But, that’s just my opinion, feel free to disagree.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Minor