A fantastic return to form from David Fincher.

Let’s face facts. Panic Room was just an excuse for David Fincher to play around with his camera. Swooping in and out of floorboards like a deranged Casper. It only showed flickers of the genius behind Fight Club and Seven (and to some extent the underrated The Game). In fact it felt as detached from those previous efforts as Gwyneth Paltrow’s head.

Based on the two books by Robert Graysmith (in the film played by Jake Gyllenhaal) Zodiac tells the true story of the Zodiac killer whose reign of terror splattered across the American West Coast in the 60s and 70s. So back to familiar territory for David Fincher? Well, kind of.

Zodiac is not so much a serial killer film (akin to Seven), the emphasis here is on the men tracking down the titular nutter. Shy cartoonist Robert Graysmith gives up on his family as his interest in the case turns into an obsession. Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) turns into a drug abusing wreck due to a standstill in the case. All round good cop David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) loses all sense of the world beyond the killings. Seven may have been about Pitt and Freeman to a point but not to this degree.

Being a Fincher film we are treated to the aforementioned camera trickery that has littered his work previously. But here there has obviously been a less-is-more approach. This time the shots can be noticed and fully appreciated. A camera is suspended above a taxi (Grand Theft Auto style) and beautifully follows the entire route. But this time the shots add to the film, not detract.

As it goes on Zodiac starts to strain slightly under the heavy running time but never does it stop entertaining. The not entirely conclusive finale may frustrate but is a fitting testament to one of America’s most infamous unsolved crimes. A fantastic ensemble piece and yes, a fantastic return to form from David Fincher.


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