CRACKING THE CODE
I went and saw "Zodiac" in the theater about 2 weeks ago, my second movie of the year. I went because the subject seemed interesting, because the cast looked really good, because I find David Fincher to be an intriguing director (though can you believe I've never seen "Fight Club?" I know, I know.), and because the advance reviews were pretty darn good. It was well worth the time and $6 (I go to matinees if I can help it).
The movie deals with the Zodiac killings of the 60s and 70s in California. We see some of those murders and they are very firghtening and mysterious, as we never actually see the killer. The killer bursts onto the scene by sending a letter claiming credit and a code to crack. This pulls in the various characters we follow throughout the movie - two detectives (played by Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards), a reporter (Robert Downey Jr.), and a cartoonist (Jake Gyllenhal). How they deal with the case is as revealing as the actual tracking of the Zodiac killer itself.
The actors really carrying this along. Robert Downey Jr. is brilliant, as he often is. Same with Mark Ruffalo. And Jake Gyllenhal acquits himself very well as Robert Graysmith, the cartoonist who allows his life to be consumed with his need to know who the Zodiac really is (and whose book this movie was adapted from). There are good actors in a variety of smaller roles as well and they all do top-notch work.
Fincher is content to build the suspense and let the characters shine by working in a lot of mid to close range shots, letting the immediacy take over. There is one shot that you really notice - an overhead view of a taxi driving in the San Francisco streets that is filled with tension - but he just lets the creepy story do the work.
I liked this movie a lot and will definitely pick up the DVD down the line. You should try and catch it in the theaters, though. It's worth it.