Friday, January 11, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty Movie Review

Jessica Chastain in Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty

From our friends at DC Film Review...

Zero Dark Thirty: A Decade in the Making

IMDb Plot: 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.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, The Hurt Locker)

What’s Best: Imagine the pressure associated with chronicling our generation’s Pearl Harbor... You simply have to get it right, and Bigelow does (in a big way.) Superb casting, headlined by Jessica Chastain executes Mark Boal’s equally impressive screenplay to a tee. Despite knowing what was about to happen, I found myself riveted at every turn. The final 30 minutes focus on the climatic Team 6 op; and are as good as advertised. Bigelow makes great use of darkness and silence, placing her audience square in the middle of the action.

Chastain’s performance as Maya is perfectly low-key with moments of well-timed emphasis. I’m not ready to hand her an Oscar as most are, but it’s another solid turn in a fast-rising and remarkable career. Jason Clarke brings a level of realism to CIA interrogator Dan that’s most becoming, despite his character’s often-brutal methods of extracting intel; and Jennifer Ehle is sensational as fellow CIA officer Jessica. It’s great to see two strong female leads in an otherwise male-dominated war movie. Don’t be surprised to see Bigelow take home a second straight Oscar for Best Director (I think it’s safe to say she’s on one heck of a roll!)

What’s Not: It’s a struggle to come up with something negative; but the members of Team 6 fail to live up to the “magical hero” moniker I assumed they had. Killing Osama bin Laden is hardly “just another mission,” but that’s the vibe I got from the guys portraying them.

Best Line: James Gandolfini’s CIA director Leon Panetta asks Maya, ‘Who are you?’ to which Maya humbly replies, ‘I’m the mother fucker who found this place, sir.’ Now that’s a first impression!

Overall: It’s a shame I couldn’t review Zero Dark Thirty earlier... It would have placed #2 on our year-end Top 10. That said, it’s hard to find any flaws with Bigelow’s surefire Oscar runaway. Void of humor, this is a film that relies on drama and suspense to hold its audience for over two and a half hours. Just in case you didn’t know... that’s almost impossible to do; yet Bigelow finds a way to grab your attention from the word GO and keep it until the very end.

Grade: A