Snap Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Posted by Rande Iaboni on December 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Snap Review: Zero Dark Thirty

From the team that brought you Best Picture Oscar winner ‘The Hurt Locker,’ comes the film everyone has been talking about, ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ Director Kathyrn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have chronicled 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. This film has made it to the top of most critic’s Must See lists this year and is likely to garner multiple Oscar nominations, so is it just hype or is this film really all its cracked up to be?

While this may not be my favorite movie of the year (Silver Linings Playbook took that title), I can confidently say ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is the best film of 2012. What is the difference you may ask? While I may not have enjoyed myself the entire time during its lengthy 157-minute runtime, every element of this feature was absolutely superb. The complex but focused script, the backdrop/locations, the score, pacing, and outstanding acting ensemble, everything about this film was just plain excellent. So lets dive right in shall we?

Typically with films regarding war, terrorism, and the CIA, I find myself puzzled much of the time with the constant name dropping and country hopping, and don’t get me wrong all of those are present here, but Boal’s script manages to never lose the main focus, and that is to catch Osama bin Laden, not once allowing the audience to forget that. And while I don’t exactly know where the majority of it was filmed, the scenery looked strikingly authentic, almost isolating for our main characters, an important factor Bigelow nailed. The pacing and score worked amazingly well as a team, keeping the slower and more talkative scenes still compelling and allowing the action sequences to rely on the thrills instead of upbeat music (specifically in the finale when no music is heard in the background, genius filmmaking).

Now lets get to the last and one of the most crucial elements that made this film so fantastic, the acting ensemble. While the publicity has been somewhat vague, rest assured there is a plethora of actors at play here and everyone knocked it out of the park. Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, and James Gandolfini all have supporting but crucial roles in the film and each is given a chance to shine at one point or another.

However, none of this would be at all possible without the great and powerful Jessica Chastain. There is talk circulating that Chastain is the front-runner for Best Actress at the Oscars this year, and now I know why. While the film is about the hunt for bin Laden, it is just as equally about the journey of one CIA agent who against all odds achieved the impossible. The transformation between Chastain’s Maya in her first scene to her last is incredibly impressive. Even more impressive is her ability to take a very thin role and make it layered. The audience is told nothing about Maya, nothing about her romantic relationships, her family, where she comes from, or why she is even in the CIA, but it doesn’t matter, because this performance allows us to get to know her so well I feel as if I am friends with Maya now.

Is this film for everybody? Maybe not, I certainly loved it and would recommend it to anybody, but like I stated earlier, the runtime is extremely long. Additionally, there are a few scenes of graphic torture shown early on in the film that has some critics complaining, but I for one don’t think it is any reason at all to not see it. Did the torture scenes disturb me? Some of them, sure, but that was definitely the intention and the film would not be the same without them.

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ succeeds in almost every element, it is one of the most important American films of the last decade, as well as the best movie of this year.

A MUST SEE.



2 Comments

  1. This movie suffered from being too slow and from a lack of compelling characters. Mark Strong killed it though – “he’s the best drug dealer that doesn’t sell drugs”

    Movie was ok at best.

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