Director: David Fincher
Writer: James Vanderbilt (screenplay), Robert Graysmith (book)
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr.
Runtime: 157 min
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Released: 2 Mar 2007
Synopsis: Robert Graysmith is a cartoonist who works for the San Francisco Chronicle. His quirky ways irritate Paul Avery, a reporter whose drinking gets in the way of doing his job. The two become friends thanks to a shared interest: the Zodiac killer. Graysmith steadily becomes obsessed with the case, as Avery’s life spirals into drunken oblivion. Graysmith’s amateur sleuthing puts him onto the path of David Toschi, a police inspector who has thus far failed to catch his man; Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting expert; Linda del Buono, a convict who knew one of the Zodiac’s victims; and others. Graysmith’s job, his wife and his children all become unimportant next to the one thing that really matters: catching the Zodiac.
The film starts on July 4, 1969, with the Zodiac killers second attack, the shooting of Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau at a lovers’ lane in Vallejo. Mageau survives while Ferrin dies from her injuries. One month later, a letter written by the Zodiac arrives at the San Francisco Chronicle. Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.) is a Chronicle crime reporter. Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a political cartoonist there. The newspaper receives encrypted letters that the killer sends, taunting the police. Because of Graysmith’s status as a cartoonist, he is not taken seriously by Avery and the editors and is excluded from the initial details about the killings despite his interest in the case. In particular, he is drawn to the encrypted code that is included with the letters and is given access to one. When he is able to crack one of the codes and makes several correct guesses about the killer’s actions, Avery begins sharing information with him.
The Zodiac killer attacks again, stabbing Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard (Pell James) at Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Shepard dies as a result of the attack, while Hartnell survives. Soon afterward, San Francisco taxicab driver Paul Stine is shot and killed in the city’s Presidio Heights district. San Francisco police detectives Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and his partner Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) are assigned to the case, liaising with other detectives such as Jack Mulanax (Elias Koteas) in Vallejo and Ken Narlow (Donal Logue) in Napa. The killer, or someone posing as him, continues to toy with authorities by speaking on the phone with celebrity lawyer Melvin Belli (Brian Cox) when he makes an appearance on a television talk show. Avery and Graysmith form an alliance, delving deeper into the case.
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