It takes true command of your craft to tell an audience a story that they think they already know. It’s even harder when they know how the story ends. This is what makes Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty such a masterful piece of cinema.
Her follow-up feature to her Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker, ends up being even better. Zero Dark Thirty is gripping and unflinching.
Before I continue on with my review, lets hunt down some trailers.
TRAILERS ATTACHED TO ZERO DARK THIRTY:
Obilivion – Is this trailer attached to every movie currently playing? I’ve seen this trailer ad nauseam! I still wanna see the movie, but please for the love of L. Ron! I need a break. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Snitch – I salute Dwayne Johnson for trying his hand at drama, rather than action. Having said that… : Sell My Stock!
Iron Man 3 – No doubt that this will be another huge hit for the franchise. My hope is that it’s as good as the original and much better than IM2. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Dead Man Down – Colin Farrell & Noomi Rapace star in this gritty crime thriller that looks like it was one budget cut away from being Direct-To-DVD. : Sell My Stock!
NOW ON WITH THE MAIN EVENT…
The United States of America does not torture. The United States of America does not torture. The United States of America does not torture.
You’re going to have to keep saying this in your head over and over again for the first 45 minutes of Zero Dark Thirty. The psychological torture that was allegedly used on detainees, in order to get them to talk about the potential whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, is shown in great detail here. Sure, some of it is physical…but it’s the mental stuff that will have you weighing the pros and cons of the issue. We wanted Osama so badly that we would have done anything to capture/kill him.
The film was originally planned as a story about the decade-long pursuit and the failure to find and kill Osama. Everything changed on May 2, 2011. When Navy SEAL Team Six pulled off the mission to kill bin Laden, Bigelow and her collaborative writer (Mark Boal also wrote The Hurt Locker) had a sweet ending for their film.
As with Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t swing to any particular political side. No red, no blue. It’s just the facts, but those facts are riveting. Jessica Chastain plays Maya (not her real name), the young and very determined CIA analyst who chases down the ghosts of bin Laden and his cohorts. In the last 3 years, Chastain has given some of the best performances of any actress. This is now her crowning achievement.
Besides Chastain’s ballsy turn, the script provides all of it’s character actors with an opportunity to deliver some memorable performances. Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Joel Edgerton, Edgar Ramirez and James Gandolfini round out this terrific supporting cast.
The last half-hour plays out like the ultimate game of Modern Warfare. You’ll know the outcome, but you will still feel the tension as if you were one of the Seals.
This is a must-see historical movie. Not only to see the end of a real-life monster, but to see how this tedious process worked. Boal’s dynamite script, mixed with Bieglow’s sensational directing and the relentless turn by Chastain, make Zero Dark Thirty a triumph.
I give ZERO DARK THIRTY **** out of ****.