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Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Chloe Sevigny, Anthony Edwards, John Carroll Lynch, Candy Clark, Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue, Philip Baker Hall, Adam Goldberg, James LeGros, Clea DuVall, Ione Skye

Director: David Fincher

Back in the Sixties, motiveless murders, committed by a killer who called himself Zodiac, scared the hell out of the good citizens of San Francisco, who walked in fear for quite a time. Over a period of years, the killer wrote letters to the police, but was never caught.

Political cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) became obsessed with the case. Also caught up in the Zodiac's whirlwind of killing were two police detectives, played by Ruffalo - clearly auditioning for the next series of Columbo - and a bewigged Edwards, as well as drug-soaked reporter Paul Avery (Downey Jr), who was so scared at being personally threatened by the Zodiac that he had badges made for himself and any who cared to wear them, saying 'I am not Avery'.

This makes good, solid stuff, if a little long and never quite as absorbing as it might be. The murders themselves, in fact, are handled with much more tension than the investigation itself, which follows the theme of Graysmith's subsequent books, in which he plainly believes that he ultimately identified the killer.

An impressive cast delivers competent performances down the line, and none more so than that of Lynch, as the prime suspect, who subtly conveys emotions and thoughts, while scarcely moving a muscle.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
158 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 12 May 2007