Review: Zero Dark Thirty

THE SETUP: So there’s this guy. He’s done some pretty horrific things. Problem is, he’s kind of hard to find. But, thanks to an almost a decade-long and deadly scavenger hunt, an obsessed operative (Jessica Chastain) and a few billion bucks…they may be on to something.

THE THOUGHTS: Let’s start with the driving force of this movie: Chastain. Her portrayal of the crazily driven CIA agent Maya is fantastic, right from the first scene to the last. She portrays it as a person that dedicates every cell of their existence to one solitary purpose: find and kill Osama Bin Laden (or is that two purposes?). She’s cocky, smart, mouthy, fanatical and awesome. As time passes in the pursuit of their target, the other characters come and go but she keeps us engaged with her passion. Jessica Chastain is freaking stupendous. From her role as a young Helen Mirren in The Debt (the first time I saw her) to the ostracized socialite in The Help, I can’t think of any movie where she didn’t stand out. She might be one of those “go to” actors aka “she’s in it, I’m seeing it.”

The rest of the cast was exactly as I said, temporary. Jason Clarke (who stuck around the most), Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong and James Gandolfini are probably the most recognizable faces in this one…and all solid.

If you’ve picked up a newspaper in the last few years, I’m guessing (much like the Titanic) you knew the ending going in.  It doesn’t make it any less interesting. The techniques, both technological and physical are interesting and sometimes horrible to watch. Is torture acceptable when it’s used in the pursuit of the greater good? There are University classes dedicated to that subject and you can share your thoughts in the comments, but I’m only going to say it was an intensely well told story of the steps needed to meet an objective. How each step in the manhunt built from the last one, whether it was to help or to hurt their investigation, was really well presented by connecting the dots to the climax. That final objective, shown in the last 20 or so minutes of the film, was intense as hell and apparently about the same amount of time the real strike took.

Some people will probably find the first bit of the movie a little confusing.  Totally understandable. There’s a lot of names and places thrown around as we (the audience) play catch up but, if you can go with it, you’ll catch up pretty quickly.

4 stars – you’d recommend this.  A thrilling story told well. From the acting to the action, director Kathryn (The Hurt Locker) Bigelow has created another great modern war movie.

Random Recommendations
Point Break (2001) – Yes, it’s true. The academy award winning director of The Hurt Locker and the critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty made a movie about surfing bank robbers starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. It’s not so much a good movie but a terrible good movie. Does that make sense? It is cheesey, over the top, popcorn, shallowness at its best. And it is fun. Your life won’t be better for it…or will it?

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