Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    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."
  2. Zodiac never veers from its stoically gripping, police-blotter tone, yet it begins to take on the quality of a dream.
  3. 100
    Zodiac is the rare serial-killer movie in which the psychosis stems as much from the pursuers (and the filmmaker) as the pursued.
  4. Fincher gets it all right, and Donovan's hippie-dippy "Hurdy Gurdy Man," which bookends the story, has never sounded so hauntingly menacing.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. An absorbing and fulfilling experience -- even though it ends with a question mark.
  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. 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.
  10. 90
    Zodiac may be the perfect meeting of filmmaker and subject ­-- an obsessive's portrait of obsession that is, finally, a monument to irresolution.
  11. Rarely has a film with so much blood on its hands seemed so insistently alive.
  12. 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.
  13. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    It makes for a daringly different kind of thriller -- cerebral, meticulous, haunting.
  14. 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.
  15. 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."
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 88
    This movie sends you into the night thinking, maybe even a little afraid. Bravo, Mr. Fincher.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    The movie holds you in its grip from start to finish.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 80
    Zodiac is superbly made, but it's also a strange piece of work.
  25. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    This gripping character study becomes more agonisingly suspenseful as it gets closer to an answer that can't be confirmed.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  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. 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.
  36. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    The film feels self-obsessed, an intriguing drama that slowly devolves into a bleak meditation on the absence of dramatics.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 566 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 95 out of 115
  2. Negative: 6 out of 115
  1. May 9, 2011
    A work of genius in storytelling by David Fincher in what is a phenominal adaption of the killings of the Zodiac killer. Clever casting forA work of genius in storytelling by David Fincher in what is a phenominal adaption of the killings of the Zodiac killer. Clever casting for the lead roles leads to some outstanding performances by Jake Gyllenhall, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo. The film itself is long, some might say to long but the every detail, big and small is so precise and is key to Fincher conveying his take on events and also in showing the effects the Zodiac has on each character. But don't let how long the film is put you off because its so compelling and intense yet intriguing that it keeps you following the story and wanting to see whats going to happen next. Ofcourse the main point of story is based on the murders of the Zodiac killer but the main theme is how the killings affect each character and gradually wares them down with initially, the lack evidence to identify a suspect and then later to make a proper conviction. Downey dazzles as a journalist investigating the murders that brings him new found popularity which leads him down the drugs route due to the frustration and inability to find the man responsible, Ruffalo is is fantastic form and delivers a magestic performance as a cop tasked with finding the Zodiac, Gyllenhall is the surprise of the show for me, his portray of a strange and peculiar yet inspiring cartoonist, Robert, is tremendous, but Finchers choice in John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Arthur was genius as his depiction of the prime suspect is fabulously creepy and encapsulates the reason why he is the prime suspect to perfection. All in all Zodiac is a truely exceptional piece of filmmaking and something that you simply cannot afford to miss out on. Full Review »
  2. 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, ZodiacKnowing 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 »
  3. StevenR.
    Mar 5, 2007
    Excellent film. The atmosphere and attention to detail effectively recreate one of the most interesting and unsolved serial killer cases in Excellent film. The atmosphere and attention to detail effectively recreate one of the most interesting and unsolved serial killer cases in U.S. history. Fincher did an excellent job with the story. Full Review »