REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty

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600full-zero-dark-thirty-posterIt has been less than 2 years after the actual death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and we have already been provided with the feature film that re-tells the events on the big screen. Following their Academy Award winning triumph in The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal collaborate once again to tackle Zero Dark Thirty, another thriller set during an on-going war. In terms of historical accuracy and whether Bigelow and Boal can improve even further than The Hurt Locker, expectations were high. Considering this and that Zero Dark Thirty has a few issues of over-complicating dialogue and slight lack of character development, it still displays the history behind such a controversial event in fine forms of suspense, psychology and drama.

Although we knew from the beginning what the ending was going to be, one of the most impressive aspects of Zero Dark Thirty was pacing. Clocking in at approximately 150 minutes (excluding the ending credits), the film amazingly jumbles in 10 years of history illustrating what bin Laden and Al-Qaeda have done without being slow or rushed. In that sense, the film keeps a firm grip upon its audience that helps them follow along the mission to that fateful night on 2nd May 2011. In the opening few minutes is merely audio from the day of 9/11. After only 12 years, we have already seen footage of that day’s events expressed in different ways. So, in an interesting move, Bigelow leaves the audience to imagine through the discomforting sounds what is happening.

Furthermore, suspense within Zero Dark Thirty remains intact throughout the 2 ½ hours and we see this through the film’s central theme – entrapment. It is displayed from both perspectives. Of course, Bin Laden himself is trapped because he is the most-wanted man in the world and the CIA are progressively closing in on him. On the other hand, we see the CIA in vulnerable, trapped situations. They can’t leave Pakistan without catching Bin Laden but whilst there; they’re still being under attack. Therefore, Bigelow’s work on Zero Dark Thirty is much stronger than in her previous effort The Hurt Locker as she adds a much more realistic tone and provides to the audience the ugliness of the events occurring in the War On Terrorism today.

At 35 years old, Jessica Chastain only began her film acting career in 2008. Before Zero Dark Thirty, she had been in mostly supporting roles and had not been given the opportunity to shine as a leading actress. However, Zero Dark Thirty marks her first major leading role as she delivers an outstanding performance as young CIA officer Maya. Although we get a rather low supply of Maya’s background story, the physicality of Maya is somewhat cold that adds a cooler chill to the film. She is obsessed with catching Bin Laden and she will stop at nothing to achieve that. Chastain deserves the Academy Award for Best Leading Actress. Meanwhile, Zero Dark Thirty’s supporting cast are overshadowed because of Chastain’s performance but a solid entry was from Jason Clarke as Dan, Maya’s fellow CIA officer. This guy is often displayed as an American slowly losing his humanity through interrogation and torture of Pakistani suspects in order to provide information. So, we get a supporting character with bitter coldness to him. Mark Strong, Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler and Jennifer Ehle become other decent additions into the supporting cast.

The whole idea behind Zero Dark Thirty can be misunderstood for a film that makes Americans feel somewhat justified after 9/11 as well as being a lesson behind the complex history of Bin Laden’s demise and Al-Qaeda. However, it went beyond that. Not only does Zero Dark Thirty deliver on every technical level, particularly editing, and still manages to be a beautifully-executed thriller, but it could have worked as a documentary. Kathryn Bigelow’s work on The Hurt Locker was impressive but she does an even better job here. Finally, Zero Dark Thirty is a challenging film to endure for 150 minutes due to the coldness of the plot but the overall satisfaction that the film brings is not only towards Americans.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 26/01/2013.

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