Zodiac ★★★★½

One of the finest mystery-thrillers you're ever going to come across, David Fincher's Zodiac is a masterwork of meticulous research, painstaking craftsmanship & precision detailing which approaches the police-procedural sub-genre in an incredibly authentic manner. Add to that, the level of accuracy it manages to maintain with the real-life investigative process turns it into an instant classic right away.

The story of Zodiac focuses on the manhunt for the notorious serial killer whose killing spree occurred around the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s to early 1970s & who used the alias "Zodiac" in his letters to newspapers, which also included ciphers. The film covers the life of investigators & reporters who become obsessed with the case in their search for the murderer.

Directed by David Fincher, Zodiac presents the revered filmmaker at the creative height of his illustrious film career and is amongst his finest works, for the effort he puts into the smallest of details in order to keep the story as authentic to real life as possible is worthy of praise. Equally fascinating is James Vanderbilt's screenplay who does a stellar job in adapting the story from the non-fiction book it is based on.

Coming to the technical aspects, production design team does a magnificent job in recreating the 1970s settings. Cinematography encapsulates the film with a dark ambience with its muted colour tones & perfect lighting. Editing is carried out so well that its 167 minutes of runtime is rarely felt. Visual effects is present in abundance yet hardly noticeable. And the background score as well as songs feel perfectly apt to the scenarios they are part of.

The cast consists of Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo & others and their work is impressive, as expected. Gyllenhaal turns in a fantastic performance as Robert Graysmith; a cartoonist working at San Francisco Chronicle who becomes increasingly obsessed with the case of Zodiac killer. Downey Jr. plays crime reporter Paul Avery, while Mark Ruffalo is assigned the role of Dave Toschi; the lead investigator on the case.

One thing I absolutely adore about Zodiac is that it presents its case to the viewers in the exact same manner it is presented to its characters and before you know it, you're already trying to connect the dots like Graysmith. There is no denying that it is a sinister film yet there is plenty of morbid humour to be found here, plus there's also one particular sequence where the tension is far more unbearable than imaginable & you will know when you get there.

On an overall scale, Zodiac is an aesthetic blend of quality direction, impeccable screenplay, perfect digital cinematography, clever editing, convincing performances & fitting score, and also remains Fincher's most mature & accomplished work to date. Despite being a long dialogue-driven story, it manages to lure the viewers in and keeps them transfixed on the screen throughout its runtime plus its emphasis on realism & accuracy to its timeline makes it all the more admirable.

As informative as any documentary can be on the same subject matter, as entertaining as any big-budget spectacle is capable of despite its lack of action, and precisely capturing the timeline its story is set in, especially when it comes to the technology that was available to the police back then, Zodiac is a cutting-edge example of its genre which presents David Fincher in prime form and isn't just one of the best films of its year, but is great enough to rank amongst the most accomplished works of 21st century cinema.

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