Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. 100
    Its most impressive accomplishment is to gather a bewildering labyrinth of facts and suspicions over a period of years, and make the journey through this maze frightening and suspenseful.
  2. 100
    Fincher gets it all right, and Donovan's hippie-dippy "Hurdy Gurdy Man," which bookends the story, has never sounded so hauntingly menacing.
  3. Zodiac never veers from its stoically gripping, police-blotter tone, yet it begins to take on the quality of a dream.
  4. Reviewed by: Nathan Lee
    Zodiac exhausts more than one genre. Termite art par excellence, it burrows for the sake of burrowing, as fascinated by its own nooks and crannies as "Inland Empire."
  5. 100
    Zodiac is the rare serial-killer movie in which the psychosis stems as much from the pursuers (and the filmmaker) as the pursued.
  6. An absorbing and fulfilling experience -- even though it ends with a question mark.
  7. In Zodiac, working from a script by James Vanderbilt, Fincher has decidedly toned down his act. His straight-ahead, methodical direction isn't as flagrantly unsettling as much of his previous work, but it's more psychologically layered. In this film, for the first time, we feel for his characters when they bleed.
  8. Firing on all cylinders as a creepy thriller, police procedural and "All the President's Men"-style investigative newsroom drama, the smart, extremely vivid production oozes period authenticity.
  9. 90
    Zodiac may be the perfect meeting of filmmaker and subject ­-- an obsessive's portrait of obsession that is, finally, a monument to irresolution.
  10. Rarely has a film with so much blood on its hands seemed so insistently alive.
  11. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Fincher, whose work on "Fight Club" and "Panic Room" displayed his expertise in melding the suspenseful and the lurid, plays it cool here. He lets his stars do their thing.
  12. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Conveying an astonishing array of information across a long narrative arc while still maintaining dramatic rhythm and tension, this adaptation of Robert Graysmith's bestseller reps by far director David Fincher's most mature and accomplished work.
  13. It's fascinating and unexpected both in its simple, looming images and its storytelling priorities, which may not intersect with the priorities of audiences who couldn't get enough of "Se7en."
  14. 88
    This movie sends you into the night thinking, maybe even a little afraid. Bravo, Mr. Fincher.
  15. Zodiac is a reproach both to those dedicated to unscrambling "The Da Vinci Code" and to those hooked on forensic crime shows where all the evidence leads to a tidy conclusion. That Zodiac's manhunt is inconclusive makes it all the more haunting.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    This is the rare movie that blends long scenes of meticulous research with a sweeping story and sustains a feeling of riveting suspense. Zodiac grips you by the throat and doesn't let go.
  17. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    It makes for a daringly different kind of thriller -- cerebral, meticulous, haunting.
  18. Anyone who enjoys the novels of Ed McBain, the Oscar-winning "All the President's Men" or any televised variation of "CSI" will be at home here.
  19. 83
    It doesn't break ground like "Seven" or "Fight Club"; it's not a thrill ride like "Panic Room." But it's a mature, thoughtful and full-bodied movie that compensates for the demands it makes with the rewards of craftsmanship, rigor, skill and art.
  20. 83
    Like Brian De Palma's 1981 masterpiece "Blow-Out," this movie contains cutting perceptions of obsession, institutional and professional myopia, misplaced loyalty in experts, misreadings of evidence and the kind of confusion that leads to conspiracy theories. But Fincher's movie falls short of masterpiece status.
  21. 80
    The more unpleasant aspects of the case are minimized in favor of telling the story and highlighting the effects of the case on these four men. It drags in spots, but even if Fincher hasn't hit it out of the park, Zodiac is easily a stand-up triple.
  22. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    This gripping character study becomes more agonisingly suspenseful as it gets closer to an answer that can't be confirmed.
  23. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    The movie holds you in its grip from start to finish.
  24. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    To undertake a thriller of this length and scope with no prospect of a morally satisfying resolution, Fincher must have been a little nuts himself. We'll see whether audiences used to the tidy one-hour cases on "CSI" and "Law & Order" will follow him down Zodiac's murky, twisted, and ultimately dead-end street. It may not sound like it from that description, but it's a hell of a ride.
  25. 80
    Zodiac is superbly made, but it's also a strange piece of work.
  26. 75
    The straightforward approach is crucial, because the movie is constantly doling out so much information -- so many names and places and theories to keep track of -- that it borders on the overwhelming. Occasionally, it's a little dull, too.
  27. 75
    Zodiac is a kind of corrective remake of "Se7en," a renunciation of that earlier movie's psychotic nihilism. That rejection extends to a neat sight gag. Fincher gives us a shot of a cardboard cutout for "Dirty Harry" that mocks the personal abyss that catching Zodiac becomes.
  28. 75
    The length and uneven pacing are stumbling blocks with which an audience must contend. Patient viewers will be rewarded; others may wish for something with less subtlety and more verve.
  29. The most provocative aspect of this compulsive riddle is how it resists closure. The end comes not when we have the answer, but when the movie reaches its irresolute end.
  30. What begins like your basic police procedural becomes more and more choppy and diffuse. To a point, that’s intentional: Zodiac was never caught, and Fincher aims to creep you out with the lack of closure.
  31. 70
    Zodiac is primarily a complex character study, despite the film's grim and gruesome subject matter. It's a role reversal of sorts for a director who normally emphasizes the brutal tension in his movies.
  32. The picture tries hard for addictive mystery, but it is full of scenes that promise insight and don't deliver.
  33. At 2 1/2 hours, the film is too long in the telling and too short on suspense.
  34. Without a persuasive ending, Zodiac is an exercise in frustration if not futility. But before it hits the inevitable wall, it does something better than most genre films even attempt: it perfectly depicts the obsession that often overtakes cops and reporters involved in high-profile crimes.
  35. Never takes off, but it never collapses. At times, it becomes frustrating -- for example, about 30 minutes are spent pursuing a lead that goes nowhere.
  36. 50
    Bits of the picture are fascinating to look at, but eventually, exhaustion kicks in, to the point where we're not sure what we're looking at, or why.
  37. The film feels self-obsessed, an intriguing drama that slowly devolves into a bleak meditation on the absence of dramatics.
  38. That's exactly the problem with this movie: It's not about a killer, or his victims, or the manhunt or the cops. They're all in it, of course, more or less. But it's about a writer.
  39. In some ways, for better and for worse, this is even more about Graysmith (Jake Gyllehaal)--who became obsessed with solving the Zodiac killings that terrorized northern California in the late 60s--than about the murderer.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 286 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 89 out of 101
  2. Negative: 6 out of 101
  1. Nov 28, 2012
    David Fincher delivers a pretty entertaining thriller with "Zodiac". The story follows several men who become obsessed with the infamous Zodiac Killer and his reign of terror over the San Francisco Bay area during the 60s and 70s. The movie delves deep into what happens to investigators when their cases go unsolved, and how far they'll go to uncover the truth. All in all, I felt that "Zodiac" was a pretty well-crafted film - especially in a technical sense. David Fincher implements a number of convoluted CG techniques to recreate the Zodiac Killer murders and certain areas of San Francisco. Fincher also filmed the majority film using the digital Thomsom Viper camera, something that, at the time, was relatively innovative. The acting was pretty great, I felt that every actor delivered their roles with the utmost accuracty. Also, the script seemed very well written and fairly convincing. As a film, "Zodiac" really does it's job of making you feel as though you are chasing after the elusive killer himself. Full Review »
  2. CRL
    Aug 15, 2011
    This is a hard movie for me to rate, for a myriad of reasons. Zodiac is based on a true story; Robert Graysmith's book of the same name. To be able to take such a convoluted story and condense it into a movie is an achievement in itself. The acting is fantastic from all parties, with Jake Gyllenhaal playing the main role of both naive cartoonist and possessed civilian-detective to a fault. The script is good; it even manages to throw in a laugh here or there, and the cinematography, at some points, is excellent. Then there's the plot, which could easily be separated into two (and a half) parts. There's the beginning, while the murders are happening and the case it hot, which to me, this is easily the weaker portion of the film. The story at that point is slow and laborious, with too many people saying too many different things each with not enough airtime. The middle (the half part) is the three seconds the film takes to jump four years, during which it becomes a cold case. Then comes the end, which is entirely focused on Robert Graysmith's (Gyllenhaal) hunt for the Zodiac Killer. Not only then does Zodiac become suspenseful, but it almost reaches the Olympian heights of Fincher's other serial killer thriller, Se7en. In the end, the pros outweigh the cons, and leave you with a movie that is a bit too long and just maybe a bit too true... but nonetheless an entertaining and sometimes fascinating film. Full Review »
  3. Mar 29, 2014
    Knowing the way David Fincher's movies work, I was expecting a twist at the end, and I was disappointed when there wasn't one. However, Zodiac is still terrifyingly creepy, eerie, and its suspense level rises into Hitchcockian territory. Fincher's refusal to tie up loose ends in the movie as far as leads doesn't seek to confuse; instead, it seeks for the viewer to try to solve this case in his/her head. And for that fact alone, this movie stands out above the average genre fare. Full Review »