Zero Dark Thirty


Over the past few weeks, Zero Dark Thirty has been the source of some controversy due to the alleged “pro-torture” stance the movie takes along with allegations of partisanship. I’m sure people voicing these complaints would much rather see another Underworld sequel or a third Ghost Rider film, but I’ll gladly take a controversial film that delivers in nearly every aspect over most of the mindless Hollywood garbage that is spurned out on a pretty regular basis.

As you have no doubt heard, Zero Dark Thirty is a movie based on the 10-year manhunt for Osama bin Laden culminating with the assassination in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan (spoiler alert?!?)

Having watched this movie and Argo in the past few months, I’m starting to wonder if having a story where basically everyone knows the ending going in somehow enables the writer to focus more on the story as a whole and less on trying to set everything up for a memorable cinematic ending.

Jessica Chastain stars as Maya, a young female CIA official who has spent the majority of her career trying to find information about post-9/11 Osama bin Laden/al Qaeda. Chastain gives as strong of a lead actress performance as I’ve seen in years. If she isn’t rewarded with a Best Actress Oscar, I’d be extremely disappointed.

The movie, much like Full Metal Jacket, is almost two movies. The first movie (first two hours of the film) is manhunt for Osama. There is so much going on it’s almost hard to describe. You see waterboarding (which I don’t know if I’ve ever seen depicted on screen before) of detainees. You see the political process of the CIA/military. You see suicide bombers. Attempted assassinations. Bribery. Surveillance techniques. It’s all very captivating. The second movie (last 40 minutes) is a military movie on the attack on Osama bin Laden’s compound. Both “movies” could easily exist on their own, but together they form one of the more brilliant movies released in a long time.

Even before this movie was released, I knew it wasn’t going to win Best Picture simply because their are too many “anti-war” people in Hollywood. Honestly, I think it’s the same reason the more-than-deserving Saving Private Ryan didn’t win in 1998. I was shocked when Katheryn Bigelow wasn’t included in the Best Director category (even more so when I saw the director of Beasts of the Southern Wild in the list).

Quite simply, this was my favorite 2012 movie that I’ve seen thus far and I highly doubt any movie will top it. A great storyline, great acting along with great direction from Katheryn Bigelow have resulted in one of the more memorable films in a long time. Kudos to all involved for coming very close to cinematic perfection.


out of 10

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01 2013

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  1. Cory #

    I still need to see ZERO DARK THIRTY (among others).

    You bring up an interesting point, though, about writers being able to focus on storytelling, as opposed to figuring out an ending that will probably only screw up the first 90 minutes of the movie.

    Jessica Chastain has really been the breakout female performer of the last couple of years — she’s been fantastic in EVERYTHING. However, I doubt I’ll catch her new horror flick “Mama.”

    • brentnet #

      I looked up Jessica Chastain’s filmography after the movie and hadn’t realized she’d been in so many movies recently – mostly because I’ve skipped every movie she’s in not named “Lawless.” I really don’t haven’t enjoyed any of Terrence Malick’s work, so I had interest in “Tree of Life” (his other work was well made but just kinda boring) and just never got around to watching “The Help.” She was ridiculously good in this, though.

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