#REVIEW: “ZERO DARK THIRTY”
We all know what happened to Osama bin Laden, but do we really know what happened to him? Zero Dark Thirty in case you haven’t heard, is a Frontrunner in the race for Best Picture at the forthcoming 85th annual Academy Awards and in a year which saw several standouts, the Thriller-Drama truly stands-out among the best. And believe me, the competition was fierce. This latest effort from Academy Award-winning Director Kathyrn Bigelow, who brought us 2010 Best Picture – The Hurt Locker – is the never-before-told Story about the young Woman, Maya (Jessica Chastain), who was the Mastermind behind the successful capture and execution of the World’s Most Wanted Man.
Zero Dark Thirty which is the military term for 12:30 AM, signifies the dark cloud of secrecy surrounding the famed Operation – a befitting name for a Film once known simply on IMDB as just Untitled Osama bin Laden Project. Bigelow and former Journalist/Academy Award-winning Screenwriter Mark Boal leave little unanswered here with an impeccably process-oriented and riveting accounting of the moments leading up to and following bin Laden’s Capture. The greatest mystery perhaps, is who Maya really is.
The road to victory is by no means an easy one as surprisingly, our Heroine is faced repeatedly with an internal opposition. Really, who possibly could argue with someone who is 100% certain that she’s pinned-down where bin Laden‘s whereabouts? Above this, she has a couple close brushes with death, her life being spared, while some of her Friends are not so lucky. Nonetheless, Maya fights tooth and nail to secure the resources required to acheive that one goal she’s lived her entire life to accomplish. Chastain channels an unwavering, slow-burning coolness about her, fully showing her mettle in one pivotal scene which likely will win her the Oscar for Best Actress, where she angrily confronts CIA Islamabad Station Chief Joseph Bradley (Kyle Chandler).
Great turns from Mark Strong as one of Maya’s superiors and James Gandolfini as CIA Director Leon Panetta stand out in particular, but all eyes are on Chastain, omni-present even when she’s not on-screen for much of the Film’s last quarter, shot in barely-visible darkness or Night Vision. The startling attention to detail here is admirable and how clearly the Story is told does not go unnoticed. Yes, Torture is depicted but not without purpose and justification. Zero Dark Thirty truly is a Story the World needs to know.
Alliance Films releases Zero Dark Thirty on January 11, 2013. Bigelow nails it… again.
…and because Zero Dark Thirty is so amazing and deserving of the attention, I’ve decided to get the input of my Friend and Contributor Jonathan Godfrey!
His thoughts below:
It should always be remembered that when it comes to the Performing Arts, and the unsettling emotions they inspire, the Media, (like a penniless Farmer), will come a running and milk them for all they’re worth. Take the titled Film for an example. Zero Dark Thirty by opening with the words, “based on first-hand accounts of actual events” pissed a lot people off, Critics to be exact; fellow Writers using a similar script to excite the Government into printing words of their own. Words about how America isn’t a Country invested in inflicting injury for the sake of information. Truth or lies it matters not, all of these words missed the point. Zero Dark Thirty is not a Film written to expose America, nor is it one to explain it. It is there to express it.
Mark Boal sets the stage for such expression, and Kathryn Bigelow makes the pieces upon it move in a mesmerizing way. The last time this duo worked together they won a pair of Oscars. Suffice it now to say that the wins were far from flukes. Like The Hurt Locker the aforementioned Film follows a renegade Government Employee behind Enemy Lines. Jessica Chastain plays the Character in question, a Woman named Maya. At first an unwilling flower terrorized by the wind she soon grows into a mountain that can’t be moved. Starring alongside her is a Collection of memorable Male Performers. Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler and James Gandolfini all help flesh out Maya’s Character. However, I would argue that Jason Clarke does it best. As day-job Dan he goes about his task of torturing Terrorists like we would emptying the garbage. It taxes his Soul to have the chore more than the nature of the work itself. With him as her Virgilian Guide we are better able to understand her descent through Hell.
As for the torture scenes themselves Bigelow does a great job executing them on-screen. From having Anthony Kiedis blow his foot off to seeing a boy eviscerated, Kathryn has never shied away from excessive violence. She’s welcomed the challenge to portray it, and in doing so once got Ex-Husband James Cameron to write his most explicit Script to date, (i.e. Strange Days). Thus, it is her strength to depict the horrible in horrifying ways. With Zero Dark Thirty, she does so yet again.
Bigelow also invests a soul within her Artwork, a troubled type who exists in the darkness doing all it can to be the light. And as the Film begins in darkness it is fitting that it ends with tears. For Victory is never won without such, and though the Spectators are angered and afflicted, it is the Soldier that expresses the pain.