The Zodiac taunted the San Francisco Chronicle in 1978 with 'I'm waiting for a good movie about me'. It looks like he got it and it took David Fincher to deliver it. Fincher always flew in the face of convention. His movies are usually downbeat and uncompromising (Alien3, The Game, Fight Club) - or as uncompromising as mainstream Hollywood is prepared to go lately. After the lukewarm Panic Room, it's back to business for Fincher with Zodiac. A grandiose, sprawling movie, Zodiac documents the efforts San Francisco police went through to bring down its most notorious killer. Moving from the viewpoint of the victims, to detectives Toschi (Ruffalo) and Armstrong (Edwards), to the Zodiac-obsessed Chronicle cartoonist Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) and alcoholic reporter Avery (Downey Jr.),
Fincher and writer James Vanderbilt (who adapted Robert Graysmith's book) leave no stone unturned in the hunt for the killer. So meticulous is their approach, to call Zodiac a slow burner is a major understatement, as in-depth analyses of crime scenes follow careful examination of the killer's psyche. Kicking off in 1968 and finishing up in the late '80s while simultaneously encompassing a whole host of fleshed-out characters and dead end plotlines, Fincher again attempts something different in a genre - an epic serial killer movie - and Zodiac is the JFK of serial killer movies, an All The President's Men of detective movies. The principal cast deliver believable performances, never putting a foot wrong in their understated roles, but this is really Gyllenhaal's movie. The downside is that the story fizzles out, leaving the viewer hungry for more and you'll be forgiven for feeling a little cheated of a proper climax. But then again, Fincher never goes for the obvious.