If you were to have asked me yesterday what movie perfectly encapsulates the phrase “Edge of your Seat”, I would have answered Kathryn Bigelow’s last film, the 2009 Best Picture Winning The Hurt Locker. If you asked me again today, I would be torn between that film and Bigelow’s newest collaboration with writer Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty. Regardless of your opinions of her politics, I doubt there are very many people who would deny that Ms. Bigelow has a unique way of grabbing the audience by the balls and never letting go (Cinematically speaking of course; perhaps the same is true in real life but you’d have to ask James Cameron that question). In Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow takes the piercing humanity and gripping suspense of The Hurt Locker and applies it to a much more focused story to produce one of the best films of 2012.
As I’ve been doing of late for my plat sections, this is the exact summary from IMDb. Important thing to note here? Osama Bin Laden has an IMDb page.
“A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011.”
A complete unknown several years ago, Jessica Chastain has proved herself to be one of the most skilled and versatile actresses in Hollywood today. Between this, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, The Help, Coriolanus, ,this year’s Lawless, Mama and more, Chastain has had a way of melting into her roles that most actresses have not been able to. After her Golden Globe win and Oscar nomination for her role as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty, however, people will finally at least have something definitive to describer her as “That Girl From…”. Based on a real CIA operative who remains undercover with her identity protected, Maya is just as gripping of a protagonist as Jeremy Renner was in The Hurt Locker. The main difference is that Maya has a specific obsession; to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. The film doesn’t canonize her as a saint, but recognizes her as someone who’s obsession became the key factor in the success of that mission.
Unlike The Hurt Locker though, there are no two or three primary supporting characters that surround our protagonist for the majority of the film. Instead we get a wide range of acting talent to surround Chastain, and while none of them have received much in the way of recognition I greatly respected the performances of a few individuals in particular; Jason Clarke (Public Enemies, Lawless) as the weary torturer-in-chief Dan, Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights, Super 8) as the CIA station chief that consistently butts heads with Maya, Jennifer Ehle (Contagion, The King’s Speech) as a fellow operative who is the closest thing to a friend Maya ever seems to have, and Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Kick-Ass) as the main liaison between Maya and the Intelligence Agency’s directorship who’s touch love is featured most prominently in the film’s promotional material.
– Any Call of Duty Fan will either be pissing themselves with excitement for the final assault on Bin Laden’s Compound or feeling completely insignificant due to the fact that this shit isn’t just a game to some people
– The torture scenes are the most controversial of the entire film and for good reason, but I personally think that anybody who thinks that torture played no role whatsoever in the capture of the real Bin Laden is fooling themselves
– There is no such thing as too much James Gandolfini
– The fact that the likelihood of Bin Laden being in the compound was less than the calculated likelihood of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction is an interesting highlight of how much the reliability of intillegence comes down to a role of the dice
The Verdict: 9.0/10 Incredible
+ Amazing (and in my opinion Oscar Worthy) performance by Chastain
+ Incredibly suspenseful direction by Bigelow
+ Very capable handling of some very heavy and recent subject matter
+ A feeling of humanity added to the people behind the headlines
Other Reviews: (As it seems I’m the only person who hadn’t seen this yet)
The Movie Review Blog: “The Best Film I have seen in 2012”
The Entertainment Maven: “Bigelow’s most accomplished and rewarding film to date”
Committed to Celluloid: 4.5/5
Fast Film Reviews: 4.5/5
The Focused Filmographer: 4.5/5
Mercifully Short Reviews: 8/10
KCG Reviews: 4/5
Cinematic Corner: 62/100
i’m a movie nerd: “I’m glad I saw it, but I never want to see it again”
Gamerscene: “Didn’t hit the mark exactly”
The Daily Rich: [Read the Review]