Wow, I never thought I’d use the names Pakula and Fincher in the same sentence. Call me patronizing, but having found most of his previous work to be lionized shlock or little better, I really think Fincher matures here. This is a moody procedural executed with impressive restraint. Extraneous detail is minimal to nonexistent, and the requisite moments of comic relief don’t stink of a producer’s quota. Granted, the subject entails quite a bit of exposition, but Fincher wrings the eerieness out of every moment that admits of it, and there’s a lot to unsettle you here. I sympathize with the reviewer who felt alienated by the absence of intimate character detail, but it’s not a lack I felt. I found the characters sketched adequately, and the plot has such momentum and intrinsic interest that more scenes of the detectives’ home lives or patrol car conversations might have risked making an already long film feel bloated. I enjoyed the subtle satirization of departmental bureacracy that went on (though nothing matches The Wire for that sort of project), and there’s a nicely acidic aftereffect created when you realize that those miscommunications and trivial obstructions may have destroyed a homicide case. I’m skeptical that much more can be said in our era about ethics and (print) journalism, but it’s heartening that Fincher opts for the chisel over the hammer, even if he isn’t breaking much new ground with his inquiry into the business angle of murder investigations. Oh, and Donovan has never sounded so satanic! (Fincher does for “Hurdy Gurdy Man” what Lynch did for Orbison.) One of the few recent blockbusters I’d actually class with a film like Klute, thematic differences aside. We need more thrillers that’re this thrilling.