Review – Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s new film begins with a haunting barrage of sound clips from 9/11. So begins the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. While the story features many characters, in somewhat enlarged cameos for half of the actors in Hollywood, we see the story through the eyes of Jessica Chastain’s character, Maya. The audience gets the decade long-hunt through her determined young CIA analyst.

Bigelow films the story in a very documentary-like fashion, adding an intensifying realism to the film that it deserves. I also really admire her ability to tell the more controversial aspects of the story, like the torture of detainees, with an incredible even-handedness. A movie like this could have been incredibly politically preachy, but Bigelow never takes a side. She simply states the facts, that this is what happened. I also really admired that none of it felt over-dramatized, that she and Mark Boal realized that this story is already extremely dramatic, and nothing needed to be changed.

The raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound was certainly one of the most intense sequences of the year, as well as 2nd most nerve-wracking 3rd act(1st place goes to Argo). Even though you know Bin Laden is going to be found and killed, me and my friends were on the edge of our seats that entire sequence. Props to Alexandre Desplat for creating an incredibly tense, undertonic(is that a word?) score.

Despite how well done this film is, it does a significant flaw to it. As the credits were rolling, me and my friends starting talking about the film like the scholarly gents we like to think we are, and we discovered we really didn’t get to know any of the characters, nor what happened to some of them after the end of it all. Even the main character, we never got to really know, which is surprising considering how in-depth the characters in The Hurt Locker were. Now this is not a dealbreaker in terms of the quality of the film, but it was something that held it back from another tier of greatness it could have achieved. All in all though, it’s a very impressive film, and I’m very glad Bigelow and company were the ones who made rather than some studio hack.

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