Tracking a Mysterious Serial Killer
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo,
Robert Downey, Jr., Anthony
Edwards, John Carroll Lynch,
Elias Koteas, Donal Logue,
Dermot Mulroney, Philip Baker
Hall, Chloe Sevigny, Charles
Fleischer, and Adam Goldberg
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 157 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: David Fincher
Executive Producer: Louis Phillips
Producer: Mike Medavoy, Arnold W.
Messer, Bradley J. Fischer,
James Vanderbilt, and Ceán
Writer: James Vanderbilt
Address Comments To:Brad Grey, Chairman/CEO
(A Viacom company)
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197
Phone: (323) 956-5000
Based on a real book, ZODIAC focuses on two of the main detectives tracking the killer and two journalists in San Francisco who become obsessed with the case. The authorities realize early on that they're dealing with a serial killer, because the killer writes letters with cryptic messages to local newspapers. After killing two people and seriously wounding two others in rural Northern California, the killer murders a taxi driver in Frisco.
In the letters to the newspapers, the killer calls himself Zodiac, talks about his urge to kill and threatens to kill children on a school bus. A 1966 murder in Southern California is linked to him, which sets the whole state of California on edge. One suspect after another is examined by the two detectives and one of the journalists, Robert Graysmith. Graysmith goes on his own personal crusade to unmask the killer, a crusade that lasts years and almost destroys his relationship with his family. The journalist, who mostly worked as a cartoonist, eventually writes a book on the case, which has been adapted into this movie.
The performances in ZODIAC are excellent. Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr., are brilliant as the two journalists, as are Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards as the two Frisco detectives. John Carroll Lynch is absolutely chilling as one of the prime suspects.
Though overlong and, hence, perhaps dull to modern, younger viewers not used to the slower pace of the mystery genre, the riveting story still should draw most thriller fans into its web of shocking events and tantalizing clues. In fact, several scary scenes will have most viewers on the edge of their seats. Best of all, despite rough language, some drug references, strong violence, and references to putting a pedophile in jail, the movie's focus is a moral one that centers on finding, stopping and bringing to justice a demonic, evil killer who terrorizes the public.
Another problem with such a movie, even a good one like this, is that it could encourage some copycat killers and deranged non-violent people who want the possible fame and notoriety that may come from being identified with the Zodiac case. The movie avoids, however, being a salacious work that overtly encourages such terrible acts. Thus, it deserves an extreme caution rather than an unacceptable rating. The movie's restraint is commendable, but its use of strong obscenities and strong profanities is not.
The performances in ZODIAC are excellent. Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr., are brilliant as the two journalists, as are Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards as the two detectives. John Carroll Lynch is absolutely chilling as one of the prime suspects. Though overlong and containing rough language and strong violence, the movie's focus is a moral one that centers on stopping a demonic killer who terrorizes the public.