When Robert Downey Jr. was first cast in David Fincher’s atmospheric thriller Zodiac, his career comeback was still in its embryonic stages. It was Mel Gibson who helped his close friend get his foot back in the industry door, personally paying the actor’s insurance bond out of his own pocket so he could play the lead role in 2003’s The Singing Detective.
The otherwise awful Gothika was another step in the right direction, if only for the fact RDJ met his future wife Susan on the production, before Shane Black’s wonderfully irreverent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang proved that the fallen star was still a charismatic force of nature when clean, sober and firing on all cylinders.
Zodiac was one of the future Tony Stark’s final movies before he landed his life-changing Marvel Cinematic Universe gig, and it was another reminder at the time of just how great an actor he was. It isn’t the biggest or showiest role in the ensemble piece that tracked the infamous investigation into the Bay Area’s most notorious serial killer, but the disheveled Paul Avery was a pivotal piece in the storytelling puzzle nonetheless.
As you’d expect from a Fincher film, Zodiac is meticulously put together on a technical and artistic level, so it wasn’t a shock that it yielded widespread critical acclaim. It’s now returned to Netflix after a lengthy absence, where it looks to appeal to subscribers that have made their love of all things related to murder and mystery perfectly clear.