Thursday, September 30, 2010

'Zodiac' is too long, but still worth the time

Zodiac (2007)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Anthony Edwards, Chloë Sevigny, Elias Koteas, and John Carroll Lynch
Director: David Fincher
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

A mysterious killer taunts the police and the press with letters while remaining unknown and uncatchable. "Zodiac" tells the story of three men (Downey, Gyllenhaal, and Ruffalo) whose lives were altered and consumed by their attempts to unmask the killer. The tagline here-- "There's more than one way to lose your life to a killer"--is one of the more apt ones to ever be applied to a film.

Based on real-life events, "Zodiac" is a dialogue-driven thriller that keeps a downbeat, tense mood--accented by brief horror sequences as Zodiac commits his murders or moments such as when cartoonist-turned-amateur-slueth Robert Graysmith (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) comes face to face with a man he comes to believe is the Zodiac himself--as it grinds through its nearly three hour running time. While the fillm is entirely too long, it is nonetheless well put together with excellent performances by every member of the cast. (I am mildly troubled by the fact there's a two disk director's cut of this film available. It already began to feel tortourously long as the Zodiac investigation ran around in a swamp of dead ends and I was about ready to give up on it just when Graysmith finally started putting some pieces together and the movie picked up its pace as he zeroed in on the identity of the Zodiac Killer. I shudder to imagine how dull an even longer version of this movie must be.)

"Zodiac" is worth seeing, particularly if you enjoy true-to-life police procedurals and low-key thrillers, but be aware that you'll probably have to set aside an entire evening to do so. I'd be prone to stay away from the extended director's cut, but I admit to not having seen it.)

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