A Note About Addiction. Robert Downey Jr. is known for his acting, and for his drug addiction and consequent incarcerations. My brother was addicted to heroin for some years when I was a young teenager. It wasn't an easy thing for me as a 13 year-old to face, especially after I had idolized my brother for so long. I saw how it changed so many things. How he went through rehab programs 4 times and just couldn't kick it. I saw what it did to my family, the anger and hurt it caused so many people. I took 2 major points from the experience with my brother: First, whatever release a substance can provide, it's not worth the price that'll be paid once you can't figuratively live without it. Second, just because someone is addicted to drugs, it doesn't mean they're a lesser being. It simply means they have a weakness, as everyone does, and that weakness has been exploited. What I admire about Robert Downey Jr. and his very public past with drug abuse is his ability to not let it ruin him. I find the Lindsay Lohans of the world so unfortunate. Such talent (think "Parent Trap" or "Mean Girls"), wasted. I commend Robert Downey Jr. and his body of work before, during, and after his years of drug abuse, and for not letting it define who he is a person or an actor.
In alphabetical order:
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
Picture Queens in the mid 80s. Picture the middle of a sweltering summer and tempers rising to a boiling point as fast as the temperature. Throw in an over-yet-seemingly-accurate usage of the word f--k, teenagers sexing each other up, and some offensive tagging. Now picture Shia LaBeouf playing the 17 year-old version of Robert Downey Jr. with Channing Tatum- never wearing a whole shirt (it was Queens in the 80s!)- as his best friend. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is based on the book of the same name by the film's director Dito Montiel. It's the story of his youth in Queens and how his friends' experiences with violence, drugs, and general idiocy ended up leading him down his life's path and away from the charged borough. I haven't read the book, but what I gleaned from the film is that his saints were his friends, some who made it to adulthood and some who didn't, and the vices they chose in adolescence that ultimately dictated the rest of their lives. The adult Dito returns to Queens after a 15 year absence when his father is knocking at Death's door. This is the story of his return and the events of that summer in 1986. It's a good film, about the perils of growing up and estrangement and reluctance and how a flight across the country can mean even the slightest redemption to one who was lost to the rest.
**Robert Downey Jr. won a Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for his characterization of Dito Montiel. Hometown pride for Sundance.
Ally McBeal (Season 4, 2000/01)
Alright. I realize Ally McBeal is a television show, not a film, and that by putting this entry in this chronicle I'm thereby admitting I have watched the television show, but I had to include it for this reason and this reason only: If I ever need a lawyer, I would like for it to be Larry Paul (RDJr.). Oh, and he sings in a couple episodes. Quite well, actually. I can see why he received an Emmy nod for this body of work. That is all.
The Avengers (2012)
What do a one-eyed BAMF Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson with awful hair, a leathery looking Gweneth Paltrow, and Tom Hiddleston in a ridiculous helmet have in common? The Avengers (obviously), that's what. Make sure you add the superheros to that mix: Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, and Hawkeye (whom, as it was explained to me, was given a bow and arrow because he was too dangerous with a gun after he took out 500 people with one bullet. That makes no sense to me, but this is a comic book story). Technically, SJ's character Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, an assassin, is part of the group too. Anyway- I feel like everyone's seen this so I don't need to go into great detail- Loki, Thor's evil brother, comes to earth and absconds with the Tesserac, which is an infinite energy source from space, and threatens the end of the world as we know it. The Avengers assemble to try and take him down. It's... prettycool. My parents went to see it never having seen any of the background films and my mom said she got the gist of what was going on. The best lines include: "Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist."- Tony Stark, on himself. "Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?"- Tony Stark to Thor, on Thor's outfit. "He's adopted."- Thor, on Loki. Enjoy.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
It is no secret that I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most Marvel movies I see the second they're released. I've waited three years for the next Avengers movie and Ultron did not disappoint me. At all. I loved it so much I saw it twice in less than ten days. And let me tell ya, everything is connected. The gang is back together to rid the world of evil and Hydra. But there are new powers at play, namely Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) aka the Maximoff Twins. They have a vendetta against Tony Stark, who has used Loki's scepter to create artificial intelligence. Tony hoped this would be a peacekeeping robot, but just like you never know what you'll find on the internet, you can't control a robot who can think. So Ultron is bad and the team has to work to not kill each other while trying to defeat Ultron. We get Hawkeye's life and him pointing out that his bow and arrow make no sense, Black Widow's past, a LOVE STORY with Hulk and Widow, no leathery Gwyneth Paltrow (everybody wins!) and nearly two and a half hours of solid action. It was so good. SO GOOD. To this MCU fan, anyway. And I'm so excited because I am beginning to be able to connect the things from the different movies. And a two-part Infinity War? Can't wait. Interestingly though, I'm a little tired of Iron Man/Tony Stark. We get it, you're rich and smart and kind of an ass much of the time. Show Cap more.
Robert Downey Jr. received an Oscar nomination for his role as Charlie Chaplin in this film. It was well deserved. Not only does he play Chaplin from age 18ish to 83ish, he speaks with an impeccable cockney accent which Chaplin developed into a aristocrat accent during his years in California. Downey does it flawlessly, and has Chaplin down to a tee.About the film... it was an interesting glimpse at the life of Charlie Chaplin. All I knew of him was his song "Smile" and he was a brilliant comedic genius and really did some pioneering in the silent film industry. It turns out he liked to marry girls who weren't quite of legal age, he insulted J. Edgar Hoover early on in Hoover's political career and thereby became a suspected communist, eventually being exiled from the US in the early 1950s, and he made 67 of 81 films before the age of 30. Really a remarkable man, also seemed to have unpopular tendencies in his relationships and business dealings. I personally felt like the film was a little long, but the man did live to age 88 so I'm not surprised at the 144 minute run time. He also extensively shaped the culture of the times during his earlier life, so there was quite a long story to tell. The cast was phenomenal: Diane Lane, Moira Kelly (in 2 different roles), Dan Akroyd, Kevin Klein, Chaplin's own daughter Geraldine Chaplin, James Woods, Marissa Tomei, Anthony
Hopkins. RDJr. was spectacular, and whomever did the makeup for that film deserves an award (if they didn't get one already) because he really did genuinely look like an 83 year old man instead of the twentysomething he was.
Charlie Bartlett (2007)
Charlie Bartlett is rad. Sure, it's about high school and all the perils of teenagehood that youngsters (I can use that term because I'm in the extreme downturn of my twenties) today face, but it leaves out some of the cliches and deals more with issues that tend to get swept under the rug. NEWS FLASH: being a teenager involves more than a love life and drama. Here are things you need to know about Charlie Bartlett: Charlie Bartlett (The ever incredible Anton Yelchin) starts at public high school after getting kicked out of private school for running a fake ID press. Multi-talented Tyler Hilton plays Murphy, the bully turned Charlie's business partner. Charlie starts dating Susan (Kat Denning, the annoying girl from "Thor"), the principal's daughter. Nathan Gardner (RDJr.) is the struggling nice guy principal caught under the thumb of the superintendent. Kip Cromwell tries to kill himself with psychiatric drugs he bought from Charlie and Murphy in Charlie's "psychiatrist" practice. After this, the life lesson about popularity and the right way to handle it takes shape. Reasons why I deem this film rad: no relationship drama in the love story, Charlie's office is the boys' restroom, Tyler Hilton in a royal blue polo with a popped collar, Anton Yelchin wearing very awesome pink glasses as he pitches a play to the principal, and Robert Downey Jr. sitting on a deck, driving a remote control boat around a swimming pool.
Who doesn't love Jon Favreau? He's great. This movie, was okay. RDJ had a three minute scene. The movie was a little predictable, but let's face it, most movies are, at least for me. But this one was good. Especially if you love food trucks and Cuban food and Cuban music and Twitter fights and Miami and LA and cross-country road trips and father-son bonding moments over sandwiches.
Due Date (2010)
Due Date is one of my favorites in this chronicle. Seriously. Top 3 things it has going for it: 1) HILARIOUS 2) Zach Galifianakis 3) Robert Downey Jr. in a gray glencheck Tom Ford suit and pink Oxford Martin Margiela shirt for most of the film (real men wear pink, as I always say). Here's the main deal. Peter (RDJr.) needs to get across the country to L.A. for the birth of his first child. Ethan (Zachy G.) wants to be an actor and star in his favorite show, "Two and a Half Men". Ethan gets both of them kicked off their flight and on the no-fly list. So they end up together in a rental car with Ethan's cone collared dog Sonny and his father's ashes in a coffee can, traveling across the US. Hijinks ensue. Enter Jamie Foxx as an old friend of Peter's whom accidentally makes Ethan's dad into a morning brew. More hijinks and miscues. Hilarity. More hilarity. Some naughtiness. Loads of foul language from RDJr. countered by Zachy G. using the same "pseudo swears" (read: gosh, darn, heck, fetch) in place of the real swears RDJr. used. It's rated R for a reason. I love it, but I'm not easily offended and am comfortable enough in who I am to know things I see/hear/read won't alter that. Call it justification if you will. I call it truth. Now I just need Due Date in my iTunes library. September 1st is the magical day.
Good Night and Good Luck (2005)
I love history. I think so much can be learned from what and who has come before us. But there are certain parts of history, certain events and eras that I don't know much about. The Cold War is one of them. I do know it had a lot to do with communists, and Russia, and proven loyalty to the US. And Joe McCarthy had something to do with the fervor. So I was interested to watch Good Night and Good Luck if only to be more informed. A cast involving George Clooney- who also directs and writes-, Patricia Clarkson, Tate Donovan, Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey Jr., and David Strathairn as Ed Murrow leaves little in favor of not viewing this film. In 1953, Edward R.Murrow challenged some of the allegations being brought forth against citizens of the US as well as the anti-communist rumblings of Senator Joseph McCarthy, on Murrow's CBS television show. These challenges ultimately led to the Senate investigating McCarthy and Murrow losing his Tuesday night program. It's a thought provoking film, about the influence of media in politics and the politics behind the camera, as well as how the choices one makes and thinks little of can have a lasting impact on someone else's life. To be obvious- Good night, and good luck.
Gothika is a horrorish film about paranormal vengeance, men who wish to be God and exercise dominion over the helpless, and how you can't help who you murder when you're possessed by an angry spirit. Halle Berry stars at Miranda Grey, a psychologist at a psychiatric prison in Connecticut. Her husband is the Administrator of the prison, Robert Downey Jr. is her fellow psychologist, and Penelope Cruz is her patient of main concern. After a car accident on her way home, Miranda and her weapon of choice, an axe, slaughter her husband. She finds herself in the prison, now a patient, and can't seem to remember what happened. It turns out she was possessed by the ghost of a blonde teenage girl, who is now, depending on the day, trying to hurt Miranda or rely on her to figure out what happened to her. It can be good for a mild scare. It's not my favorite RDJr. film, but if I had to go to a psychologist, I'd want it to be him. Especially if he was sporting the same glasses he wears in the film.
Iron Man (2008)
This is what started it all for me. Tony Stark. The shades. The scotch. The brilliance. The debauchery. I was hooked. And the film was really great too. Like The Avengers, I don't feel like I need to go into great detail about this film because everyone should have already seen it. But here's the basis: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., obviously) is a billionaire playboy weapons manufacturer whom gets kidnapped by terrorist extremists who insist he build them the Jericho missile, which is the ultimate missile. Instead he builds himself a suit out of iron and escapes, gets picked up by the US Military, makes it back to the US and immediately halts weapons production of Stark Industries and begins secretly working on developing and refining his iron suit. Iron Man is a great film. Tony Stark is a great character, the type men want to be and women want to be with. It's entertaining and fun. Jeff Bridges plays the antagonist, and I honestly had been watching this film for nearly 4 years before I realized it was him. Yep. Plus Iron Man introduces us to Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) whom is an asset to any superhero film. I feel like I should say more about Iron Man. because this is when my fandom of RDJr. really started to take shape, but I don't know what else to say that could possibly do it justice. The Audi. The suits. The attitude. Tony Stark.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
And another one... I am not like most people, in many regards. Including how I usually like a book or film in a series better than the other ones when the genpop largely disagrees. I like Iron Man 2 better than its predecessor. I'm not sure why exactly. Maybe it's Tony Stark showing up the Senate Armed Forces Committee and making Gary Shandling as Senator Stern yell "F--k you Mr. Stark. F--k you buddy.". Maybe it's Sam Rockwell as the ultimate douche bag Justin Hammer and the ridiculous fact he has "organic ice cream" flown to Monaco from San Francisco. Perhaps it's Mickey Rourke as Vanko the Villain. It could also be the showcasing of Tony's intelligence, and that of his father, in the (re)discovery of a new element. Could it be the cameo of Captain America's shield? Or Agent Coulson's departure to the Land of Enchantment to investigate a "disturbance", aka Thor? Maybe it's that I prefer the convertible Audi to the hard top, or that the suit, tie, and shades Tony wears in the last scene are just that spectacular (Am I sensing a pattern here?)- though watch for the inconsistency with his suit. Maybe it's all of the above. Maybe it's Tony in the race getup. Maybe it's that Iron Man and Iron Man 2 are similar yet very different films that focus on very different fights. "Look, I told you I don't want to join your super secret boy band."- Tony Stark to Nick Fury. Maybe it's that quote.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
I saw IM3 at a midnight showing in New York City's Lincoln Square. It was a pretty great experience. And the movie was, I decided, the best one yet. It was less of Tony hanging out in his lab inventing stuff, and more of Tony not being able to figure it all out right away and having to improvise to save the people who mean the most to him. It humanized hime. Some comments before the movie said the trailers showed way too much of the movie, I didn't think that was the case. The main plot point couldn't have been deduced from the trailers, and the twists couldn't have either. Ben Kingsley was phenomenal. Guy Pierce was a phenomenal. Don Cheadle was much better than he was in Iron Man 2. And I didn't completely hate Pepper Pots as a character or Gweneth Paltrow as an actress the third time around. And, naturally, Robert Downey Jr. was the best part of the entire film. And the kid side kick and the one-liners it produced were fantastic. The worst part was the end. I read an interview with RDJ that stated he doesn't have a contract for another Iron Man movie, which makes sense because this this the third in the trilogy, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be new Iron Man movies forever and ever. Comic book series go on forever and ever, so should Iron Man movies. With RDJ as Tony Stark. That way, everybody wins.
The Judge (2014)
First movie from the Downeys' production company. Great cast. The obligatory RDJ shirtless scene (keeping it tight in the abs and pecks). The Judge is sort of a reluctant prodigal son film, except the father hates the younger son and vice versa. Hank Palmer (RDJ) is a Chicago lawyer, real hotshot arrogant guy, who's marriage is ending when he receives word his beloved mother has died in the rural town from whence he came. He goes home for her funeral and ends up staying when his father, a revered country judge, is arrested for murder. Hank sets out to defend his pop, reignite his old townie flame, and ride a bike with no hands down a country road. The movie was good. The acting was solid. Naturally a bit predictable, but as I've said, most movies are predictable for me. There was a pretty nice Bon Iver song at the end. The Judge received criticism for under/misusing the stellar cast in a vehicle designed for the star, but I enjoyed it. It's worth seeing once.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
I'm in love. With Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. So much so that after I saw it I bought it and now it resides comfortably in my iTunes library. It's got everything a film needs to be great. Humor. Drama. Action. Adventure. Corbin Bernsen. Thugs. Christmas. Robbers pretending to be actors pretending to be private detectives. Val Kilmer in what appears to my damaged retinas to be a purple velour track suit (I've been known to be wrong in these things). Corny detective novels. Murder. A large dog who eats a finger. A commercial with a bear in it. A naked girl pretending to be a reindeer. Intrigue. Revenge on a father who sexually abuses his own daughter. A girl in a hot pink wig. A whole lot of shooting. Hollywood parties. And of course, the reason we're all here, Robert Downey Jr. I think I've told you enough already. Alls you need to know is this: RDJr. plays Harry Lockhart. Val Kilmer plays Gay Perry. Michelle Monaghan plays Harmony Faith Lane. Corbin Bernsen plays Harlan Dexter. How great are those character names? So great. They just add into the fantasticness of this film. If you're not intrigued by what's already been written, there is nothing more I can write to intrigue you more. Except maybe that Robert Downey Jr. (with Mark Hudson) was nominated for a Satellite Award for "Best Original Song" for the song "Broken" from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Go. Watch. Love.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
My mother is British. Therefore, I have half pure-Brit blood coursing through my veins. I also get homesick for London and bread pudding is my favorite dessert. Plus I studied English Lit in college. All these things lead to one conclusion. I love Sherlock Holmes, in both print and film form. I've read roughly half of stories and novels. They are so entertaining and interesting and improve one's vocabulary exponentially. The film is wonderful for many reason, just as the stories are. First, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude :Law are the best duo in film. There's no arguing with me on this. My mind is made up until further notice. Secondly, it showcases the humour Sherlock Holmes displays in print. "No girl wants to marry a doctor who can't tell if a man's dead or not!" Thirdly, it takes elements from some of the different stories and combines them into one super story. Dr. Watson does marry Mary Morstan. In print, she's a client of theirs who ends up with a fortune when the case concludes. Irene Adler is "the woman" to Holmes, but they're never lovers. And she does outsmart him in "A Scandal in Belgravia". What I love about the movie is the smartness, playfulness, naturalness, and cleverness with which the story and characters play out. Holmes is a genius, yet he only occasionally belittles those who do not see what he sees. RDJr. is extraordinary as Sherlock Holmes. The mannerisms, speech, looks are exactly as I'd pictured Holmes when I'd read the stories before the film came out. All the elements and details make it the perfect version of Sherlock Holmes, and nothing ever follows the story exactly.
**Robert Downey Jr. won a Golden Globe in 2010 for his performance in Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows (2011)
The Richenbach Fall. It begs the ultimate Holmes question: How did he do it? This is a question I have yet to answer, and having not yet read "The Final Problem" and the stories that follow, I don't know. But I'm certain it has something to do with the embalming fluid he drinks at the beginning and the oxygen contraption Mycroft keeps in his cabin which Holmes finds "most invigorating". Just as with the first film, I love Game of Shadows. This isn't the a clone of the first film. It's not as lighthearted. It's darker, more dangerous, the stakes are higher. This time the villain is a master criminal who has a hand in everything. The film is masterful. Is there a director who could've done this series better than Guy Ritchie? I think not. The scene in the woods with the gunfire and explosions is sheer brilliance. It's breathtaking and heart-stopping, which actually could bode ill for certain viewers. The chess game between Moriarty and Holmes. The horrifying yet necessary hook scene. Moriarty's arrogance, Holmes' ego, Watson's pupil-becoming-the-teacher demonstration. Check and, consequently, mate, and a suit of camoflauge. Not to mention Watson's stag party and wedding, the train ride, Holmes' final goodbye to Irene Adler, Paris, the marksman, and "Did you call me a selfish bastard?". It all culminates into two and a half hours of masterpiece film.
The Singing Detective (2003)
When I was a teenager, I watched Days of Our Lives religiously during the summer. How I always pulled for Beau and Hope, and loathed Sammi and Stefano. It was all a high level of ridiculous, but boy did they know how to suck you in. Watching Soapdish was like reliving the lazy days of high school summers spent watching soap operas. Sally Fields stars as Celeste Tallbert, the star of the soap "The Sun Also Sets" and America's Sweetheart. The evil she-man Montana Morehead (Cathy Moriarty) wants Celeste off the show so she can take over the leading role. To do this, she plays to the desires of the show's producer, David Seton Barnes (RDJ). In an attempt to get Celeste off the show, David bring back her former lover and star of the show Jeffery Anderson, played by the incomparable Kevin Klein. Meanwhile, Celeste's niece Lori (Elizabeth Shue) has joined the cast of the show as well. Suddenly the soap opera isn't the scripted show, it's the real lives of the actors. Soapdish is clever and funny. It plays on all the silliness of soap operas by making the lives of the actors as dysfunctional as the roles they're supposed to be playing. All the cast is terrific, including Whoopi Goldberg as one of the show's writers. The second to last scene is hysterical, as the soap goes live with the actors reading from teleprompters and Jeffery, not wanting to wear his "ugly" glasses, can't see a damn thing on the screen. Watch it, if not for the comedy or soap opera parody, then for the amazing early 90s fashion.
The Soloist (2009)
Ever read the LA Times? Ever read Steve Lopez? I haven't. Well, read Steve Lopez that is. But I have read the LA Times on occasion when in Newport Beach. I'm not much of a newspaper reader these days because of all the fear mongering and the hate and the horrific acts humans impart on fellow humans, among other things. The Soloist and the writings of Steve Lopez made me consider changing my stance, or at least start reading the LA Times more regularly. This is the story of a man who moves people with his words, and a man he meets who moves people with his music. It's based on the true story of Lopez's friendship with a homeless man named Nathaniel Ayers, a Julliard trained musician whom is now homeless on Los Angeles' Skid Row. Lopez writes a column about Ayers and the unexpected reader gift of a cello begins an (also) unexpected friendship between the journalist and the musician. I was unsure of viewing this film at first. I watched a trailer and decided it would be a good idea. It is really a phenomenal story, so much so that I'm about to start the book. I grew up and currently live in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. Homelessness isn't common where I come from. But I've traveled to large cities, been to college, and taken part in trying to make my community a better place. I thought I realized the plight of homelessness in the US. I was wrong and I knew I was wrong after watching The Soloist. I always applaud a film that can open my eyes to something I think I know about with such poignant subtly that you can't help but think about the issue afterward. Not the film, the issue it addresses. That is the tell of something well done with a needed message. Robert Downey Jr. plays Lopez beautifully. Jamie Foxx is spectacular as Ayers. Go. Watch. Learn.
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Tropic Thunder: a group of real actors playing fictional actors playing soldiers in a Vietnam Era film unknowingly caught in a real firefight at the tiny hands of a child drug lord with poppy farms and a whole lotta cocaine. Hilarity ensues. Ben Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, an aging action star. Jack Black plays Jeff Portnoy, the comic who relies purely on farts to make his movies funny. Robert Downey Jr. plays Kirk Lazarus, a 6 time Oscar winning Australian actor who plays a black soldier. Brandon T. Jackson plays Alpa Chino, an actor who has a line of energy drinks called Booty Sweat. Nick Nolte play Four Leaf Tayback, the fraudulent writer of the book the fictional movie is based on. Matthew McConaughey plays Rick Peck, Tugg's agent whose primary concern is getting a TiVO for his star. And Tom Cruise, in a bald cap that makes him almost unrecognizable, plays the evil studio executive Les Grossman. Tropic Thunder is amazing and hilarious. It's a parody of war films that take themselves too seriously. In the end, it's not really about a war at all. It's about making a movie. This is one of RDJr.'s most brilliant turns, and anyone who thinks he plays "the same character" in every film ought to take a look at Kirk Lazarus. He is so convincing as a black man that for half the film I seriously questioned if it was actually him. In fact, RDJr. was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Kirk Lazarus, among other awards for that roll. One really great quote: [on the phone] Tugg: I killed one Rick. I killed the thing I love most in the world. Rick: A hooker? All right, you killed a hooker. Calm down. Here's what you're gonna do. Get your hands on some bleach, some hydrogen peroxide, and a shitload of lyme. Tugg: No. A panda. I killed a panda. Rick: Amanda? Come on dude. I mean,, that's probably not even her real name. Tugg: No a panda! Rick: A panda? Tugg: A sweet, cuddly, vicious little panda.
U.S. Marshals (1998)
Ah, 1998. It seems so long ago, but really it's not. It's the year I started high school. The year *NSYNC released their Christmas album, Monica Lewinsky became a household name, Swiss Air lost a flight to the Atlantic, Kosovo found more autonomy from Yugoslavia, Robert Downey Jr. plays the villain. You heard me. Long before he was "privatizing world peace" and solving crime, he was the one committing it in U.S. Marshals. Oh, by the way, spoiler alert. Tommy Lee Jones reprises his role as Sam Gerard, previously seen in The Fugitive with basically the same premise going on in this film, and RDJr. ends up playing the bad guy. I don't feel bad for this spoiler, mostly because I figured it out about the second he stepped out of the helicopter. And the film really wasn't that enthralling. The video quality (not usually something I harp on, especially on a 14 year-old film) was exceptionally awful. And I found the 131 minute run time slightly too long, especially when I'd figured it out 25 minutes in. However, RDJr. wore a really great navy blue and kelly green striped tie with a french blue shirt and dark suit, so that made things a little more acceptable. As far as law enforcement thrillers go, it was fine. Not great but fine.
Sometimes I find my self intrigued by stories of real-life serial killers. I feel kind of sick saying that but it's true. The reason it's true is the need to understand someone being able to take someone else's life and be okay with it. Let's be clear: I'm not okay with slasher-flick, murderous rampage, nobody-but-one-pretty-girl-survives type stories. I'm talking about the Ted Bundy type of stories. Couple that intrigue with Zodiac boasting RDJr. as one of its stars and, well, I watched it. It's based on actual case files, you know. The Zodiac was a killer in the late 60's and early 70's in Northern California who killed people and sent letters to the San Francisco Chronicle editor (and other area newspapers) with cyphers that were supposed to reveal clues or identities or something significant. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist at the Chronicle who becomes obsessed with the case and finding the Zodiac. Mark Ruffalo, who looks fantastic by the way, plays David Toschi, the lead detective on the case for the SFPD. And Robert Downey Jr. plays Paul Avery, a Chronicle reporter who works with Graysmith investigating the Zodiac and eventually ends up a drunk reporting for the Sacramento Bee. The film was well done but disturbing, as films about serial killers are, but the worst part is... I have just deleted the worst part because writing it here gives away the ending of the film and I'm not going to be that guy... even though I just was that guy above. As previously stated, the film was well done. It was well acted. Watch it if this sort of story interests you. Or if you're a Gyllenhaal, Downey Jr., or Ruffalo fan. Be prepared to feel in need to hold a fluffy kitten or soft puppy after viewing.