Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jessica Chastian, Jason Clarke,
Jennifer Ehle & Kyle Chandler
Released: 2012
Runtime: 157 minutes
Rating: 4/5

After the unexpected success and overwhelming critical acclaim of The Hurt Locker which earned Kathryn Bigelow the Oscar for Best Director. She returns to a very similar world as depicted in The Hurt Locker for her latest film; which is a dramatization of the decade long manhunt for terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden; from the devastating September 11 attacks all the way to his death in May 2011 at the hands of United States Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6.

The film centres on a young female CIA officer named Maya played by Jessica Chastain. She’s a character who we never really get to know her at all apart from the few basic facts; such as that she’s CIA, tough as nails and absolutely determined to find Bin Laden. She kind of reminded me of Carrie Matheson from TV’s Homeland, except without all the crying and going completely haywire every five minutes.

This was a long movie but never for a moment boring. It’s slow paced but I think knowing where the plot was leading to and the lead-up itself kept me enthralled. I admit that there were moments when I did not understand what was going on as I’m not exactly well versed on the subject but that didn’t hinder my overall enjoyment of the film. This may be a bit of a stretch but as I write this review I’m slightly reminiscent of the John Ford classic The Searchers. Another film about a decade long search or hunt depending on the point of view of the two lead characters, but instead of Cowboys and Indians we have CIA and terrorist.

Jessica Chastain who I am madly in love with by the way just nails in her performance as Maya. Again we don’t get to know her that well but thinking about it now that was actually a smart move. You try to figure out her character yourself instead of the film just showing you, so this gives each audience member their own interpretation of who this woman is. I really hope she wins the Oscar later this month which I think she will. I’ve been a fan of her since first seeing Take Shelter. Constantly throughout Zero Dark Thirty I found just sitting in complete awe as to how attractive she is. Okay that’s enough gushing. The supporting cast are all great, Jason Clarke in particular who plays a real hard ass but still has a very human side to him. There’s also Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong as CIA hierarchy and Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) himself as Director, who knew?

The film’s climax is a massively satisfying payoff and one of the most skilfully directed sequences I’ve seen in a long time; Kathryn Bigelow should have been nominated for that alone. Obviously you know what’s about to go down yet it’s still insanely nerve racking. It felt like I was actually there, almost an indescribably sensation.

The controversy surrounding the torture is well over blown in my opinion, yes it’s shocking and disturbing but that’s usually the case with torture and I’m sure it’s a lot worse from what we do actually see in the film. But overall Zero Dark Thirty is not a film for everyone, it requires a bit of patience but the payoff is well worth it and I think anyone with an interest in history will enjoy it.

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