Zero Dark Thirty Movie Review
Following the tragic September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers, ZERO DARK THIRTY explores the decade long hunt for the man responsible for the evil. Every behind-the-scene detail becomes a riveting exercise in anticipation and personal vengeance.
Naturally, ZERO DARK THIRTY is a film that nearly all Americans will get behind because we felt personally involved in some form or another by the purposeful attack on our nation. Ending with the raid on Osama bin Laden by the heroic SEAL Team Six in 2011, I think it’s fair to say that the content sets itself up to be adored without anyone even seeing the film. But despite the fact the film capitalizes on audiences hurt and anger from the memories of the tragic events, ZERO DARK THIRTY is still extremely effective as an intelligent suspense thriller.
With such a grand political, national and world issue, the film wisely narrows the focus to one woman’s plight to find and kill the world’s most wanted Al-Qaeda terrorist. With an excellent supporting cast including Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt and James Gandolfini, there are plenty of key characters who aid intelligence expert and CIA operative Maya, played with tough dedication by Jessica Chastain. Her performance could easily have gone over the top, but Chastain uses subtlety in her exterior with a knowledge and willingness behind every action to do whatever it takes to get her man. While her personal vendetta may at times seem offensive, since her reasons are no more important than anyone else’s, it doesn’t make them any less true.
Director Katherine Bigelow, who won two Academy Awards (Best Director and Best Picture) for her fine but overrated movie THE HURT LOCKER, has exceeded her previous work with a terrifically insightful and suspenseful film in ZERO DARK THIRTY. Masterfully capturing tensions in every scene through brutal interrogations and riveting research that otherwise may come off mundane, Bigelow is fully aware of each detail. Every conversation has exquisite presence that keeps the viewer glued to every moment.
There have been a few grumblings about the use of torture and story accuracy surrounding the film. I obviously can’t comment on the in-depth details of what did or did not happen behind the scenes within the U.S. military and CIA. However, despite a few unfortunate moments that clearly take some unnecessary Hollywood liberties, ZERO DARK THIRTY is a thoroughly gripping tale.
With strong direction and great performances, ZERO DARK THIRTY is easily one of the best films of the year. The incredible story effectively plays to audiences emotions but that’s not a fault since many of us care so deeply about the topic. The final SEAL Team Six operation provides a feast of emotions for a hunger that can never fully be satisfied because of the lives lost on that fateful date just ten years prior.