A serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970's case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case. Based on Robert Graysmith's book, the movie's focus is the lives and careers of the detectives and newspaper people. Written by
Dave Toschi in real life was the inspiration for Steve McQueen's performance in Bullitt (1968). In the film, Graysmith mentions that Toschi wears his gun like Bullitt. Avery replies that Bullitt got it from Toschi. See more »
At the end of the movie, we see a ramp shot of the Ontario (KONT) California airport in 1991. The United Airlines 727's parked on the Ramp are all painted in a paint scheme that was changed in the mid 1970's. See more »
The end text reads as follows: Following Mike Mageau's identification of Arthur Leigh Allen, authorities scheduled a meeting to discuss charging him with the murders. Allen suffered a fatal heart attack before this meeting could take place. In 2002, a partial DNA profile, that did not match Allen, was developed from a 33 year-old Zodiac envelope. Investigators in San Francisco and Vallejo refused to rule out Allen as a suspect on the basis of this test. In 2004, the San Francisco Police Department deactivated their Zodiac investigation. Today, the case remains open in Napa County, Solano County, and in the city of Vallejo, where Arthur Leigh Allen is still the prime and only suspect. Inspector David Toschi retired from the San Francisco Police Department in 1989. He was cleared of all charges that he wrote the 1978 Zodiac letter. Paul Avery passed away on December 10, 2000 of pulmonary emphysema. He was 66. His Ashes were scattered by his family in the San Francisco Bay. Robert Graysmith lives in San Francisco and enjoys a healthy relationship with his children. He claims he has not received a single anonymous call since Allen's death. See more »
Using the Facts to Create a Pleasing Crime Thriller
Zodiac, David Fincher's film about the impact the San Francisco Bay Area serial killer's case had on three primary characters is delivered with great attention to detail and proper pacing. Zodiac is not a film that uses or relies on suspended disbelief to succeed and does not attempt to compress five years of story into one in order to keep viewers interested. Instead it relies heavily on the facts and uses all of its 158 minutes to present them in almost linear form and staccato fashion.
Set primarily in San Francisco in the late 1960's and 70's (and eventually the 80's) Fincher's Zodiac takes no artistic license by adding the obligatory car chase scene down Russian Hill, drug enhanced evening in Haight-Ashbury or conspiracy oriented behind the scenes moves by City Hall. Instead the audience is presented with a credible story that portrays how stress, tension, frustration and fascination play upon the lives of S. F. Police Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), S.F. Chronicle Editorial Cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhall), and S.F. Chronicle reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.). Each of these people, as well as those surrounding them are operating well within the confines of every day life and the establishment. Fincher does not let Zodiac wander outside its central story, and therefore no editorial comment about the Vietnam War or similar events of the day are offered. Insights about the impact on the victims (who survive) or their families are only touched upon if they remain central to the story.
The initial scenes of the movie depict the killer in operation and they are not sugar coated. However, viewers wanting to see a film in the style of Fincher's Alien (3), Se7en or even Fight Club (i.e., blood and gore to almost surreal levels) should look elsewhere.
Zodiac is a well crafted production on all fronts. In addition to Fincher, the lead actors and extensive (and well known) supporting cast Zodiac producer's assembled a credible team. James Vanderbilt (Screenplay), David Shire (Score), Donald Burt (Production Design), Keith Cunningham (Art Direction), Victor Zolfo (Set Direction) and Casey Storm (Costume Design) all deliver quality work in their respective areas. There are no weak spots in this film. Zodiac may not (or attempt to) dazzle, but it does please.
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