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  For me David Fincher has made two of the greatest movies of the last ten or so years, Fight Club and Se7en, two astonishing films that were so different to everything else out at the time. It’s been a while since his last film, Panic Room, and now Fincher is tackling a real story, the story of the Zodiac, a serial killer who haunted the San Francisco area for over a decade, from the late 60’s onward. It’s not giving anything away to say that the mystery of the Zodiac is all the more interesting as they never caught the guy. Like Apollo 13, you go into this film knowing how it’s going to end, yet like that film it still keeps you gripped as you take the journey to that end.

   The film stars Jake Gyllennhall as Robert Graysmith a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle who became obsessed with the mystery of the Zodiac, so much so that the film is based on his book. What made the Zodiac more intriguing was that he kept sending the police and The Chronicle letters with special codes which he said would reveal his identity if broken, and that was where Graysmith became part of the investigation. Working along Graysmith at the Chronicle was Paul Avery, played by Robert Downey Jr., a reporter put in charge of the story.  Avery’s coverage of the story frustrated two detectives, Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) and David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), it even got too much for Armstrong who left whilst Toschi gets more and more drawn into finding his man. Funnily the story was adapted for an iconic film, Dirty Harry, that time thought the villian is called the Scorpio, and they even reference it in this film.

   You would expect a film set in the 60’s/70’s would put a bit of a stranglehold on Fincher’s visual flair but unlike the Coffee Pot handle shot from Panic Room, Fincher uses his technical knowledge to produce some amazing shots that reall get you into the horror and menace of San Francisco at the time. The overhead shot of a cab ride is one of these great shots. He also creates a real tension especially in the murder scenes where you know whats coming and are wanting to look away, but can’t pull your eyes away.  I wouldn’t say this is as good a film as Fight Club or Se7en, but it is a different film and a long one at that. As Fincher grew up in San Francisco at the time of the Zodiac you can see that it has had a big effect on him, and he is almost as obsessed as Graysmith. It is an interesting film, that has the right amount of reality and tension to keep you gripped, and even throws up who they think was the killer. Rating 7/10

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