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Reviewed on 2007-03-06
Received[3.5]  out of 4 stars
GenreCrime / Drama / Thriller
Zodiac is based on one of the most notorious unsolved crimes in U.S. history. In this real-life drama, the serial killer panics the San Francisco Bay Area in the1960s and 1970s and taunts police with his ciphers and letters. The case becomes a compelling obsession for four investigators as they are guided on an endless series of dead end clues. Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cartoonist who becomes preoccupied with the case and eventually surrounds his entire personal world with Zodiac letters, pictures, news releases, ciphers, and case reports. Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) is a journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle fixated on the mind games Zodiac is playing on the media. The head investigators Inspector Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Inspector Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) ask all the right questions but fall short when it comes to getting enough of the right answers.

All of the facts and theories are thrown together in a way that keeps you second guessing your own thoughts about the cases. As each new suspect is presented, you buy into the possibility they are in fact the serial murderer. It allows the audience member to be a part of the mind altering investigations that Inspector Toschi and Armstrong conducted over 40 years ago. The problem is that each time you think you know, you quickly realize you have not even begun to understand the complexities of examining multiple murders with limited investigative tools.

With no communication from the Zodiac in months and at times years, the case grows cold and most of the police officers or reporters originally assigned to the case are reassigned, burned out, or just give up hope. The exception is Graysmith who has grown more obsessed with the Zodiac over time. He loses everything he has in the process of working on a book about the case. He wants just one moment, a moment he can look the killer in the eye and know that without any doubt he has discovered his identity.

The all-star lineup of actors is impressive without a shadow of a doubt. The characters are deeply rooted and believable while the story line was clear and precise. The only complaint I have heard is that the film is too long at roughly 2 1/2 hours. It is clear to see why many moviegoers would think that is lengthy, but realize that this is an intricate story with deep characters needing to be examined and understood. If the movie had been shortened many important details and character developments would have been left on the cutting room floor. Sure, it is long but this is our history and a well written movie at that.

Review By:
Maleah Moran,

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