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Based on the actual case files of one of the most intriguing unsolved crimes in the nation’s history, “Zodiac” is a thriller from David Fincher, director of “Seven” and “Fight Club.” As a serial killer terrifies the San Francisco Bay Area and taunts police with his ciphers and letters, investigators in four jurisdictions search for the murderer. The case will become an obsession for four men as their lives and careers are built and destroyed by the endless trail of clues.
The last thing we need is yet another serial killer movie. So when we all heard David Fincher was making one about the Zodiac killer, even though it's David Fincher, I had a hard time getting interested.
Then I saw the trailer. Zodiac is not just another serial killer movie. The trailer’s tone is surprising to say the least. This isn’t yet another attempt to recapture the greatness of Silence of the Lambs, this is more like Silence of the Lambs crossed with Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang., and not just because Robert Downey Jr. is in it. Now I’m interested.
After Se7en and Fight Club, Fincher became one of those wildly popular, geek crowd directors who movie nerds lust after with the kind of fervor your parents might have reserved for someone like oh, Woody Allen. Today’s Woody Allen equivalent makes movies with severed heads and split personalities. Personally, I think we have it a lot better.
Since Fight Club though, Fincher hasn’t exactly been prolific. That’s symptomatic of most of his contemporaries, Hollywood’s current crop of great directors, most of whom popped onto moviegoers radar in the 90s. Their films are great when they make them but Fincher, PT Anderson, Baz Luhrman, Darren Aronofsky and the rest just don’t get around to making movies very often. This is only Fincher’s second film since Fight Club in 1999, and the other one, while well received at the time, seems to have been quickly forgotten. Anyone remember Panic Room? No not Flightplan. The good Jodie Foster thriller.
The problem wasn’t with Panic Room, from anyone else it might have been a memorable experience. But this is the guy that made Fight Club, and everything he does must suffer by comparison. Now it’s Zodiac’s turn to stand up and take a Fight Club punch. Can it stand up? If Fincher really has found a way to turn the stagnant serial killer genre and turn it’s on it’s head, Zodiac may do more than take the hit, it just might punch back.