Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Written by Mark Boal
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke and Kyle Chandler

Dan: This is what defeat looks like. Your jihad is over.

Remember how it took a moment to process the reality of the announcement that Osama bin Laden, leader of the al Qaeda terrorist organization, had been killed by the Americans? I do. It was late at night and it didn’t seem real. The Americans had made it their personal mission to hunt down and kill the man behind the horrifying September 11th terrorist attacks, but that was nearly ten years prior. It seemed to me, to most perhaps, that their efforts would ultimately prove fruitless, to the point where I had almost forgotten they were still looking for him. Find bin Laden they did though and now, thanks to Academy Award winning director, Kathryn Bigelow (THE HURT LOCKER), you can see exactly how it happened and precisely why it took so darn long.

ZERO DARK THIRTY, a reference to the approximate hour bin Laden was killed, is an intense account of the ten years it took to fulfill the promise President George W. Bush made to his people after they were attacked. Bigelow does not shy away from the dirtier details of the mission, exposing us to a great deal of torture from the very onset. The manner in which America dealt with its enemies changed a great deal after 9/11, and again since then, when it was exposed to the world how horrible they were being to their detainees. Bigelow hardly glorifies their methods but she also is sure to show that if it weren’t for some of these tactics, they might not have been able to prevent some potentially disastrous terrorist plots. To watch the ever changing face of how the Central Intelligence Agency worked to protect the American people, only further highlights just how long it took to execute its vendetta. To watch that mission presented as an obsession sheds some much needed light on how it may have also distracted from thwarting some other successful terrorist attacks.

Bigelow reteams with THE HURT LOCKER screenwriter, Mark Boal, for ZERO DARK THIRTY, and while the twosome certainly work well together and know how to craft tense, taut thrillers, their latest collaboration lacks some of the deeper insight their previous success had. Watching THE HURT LOCKER, I felt a grander sense of purpose in the unfolding action, while ZERO DARK THIRTY felt more like a straight forward manhunt thriller than anything else. Sure, it is led by the luminous, Jessica Chastain, in yet another remarkable performance, but even her profound subtlety doesn’t bring us anywhere underneath the surface of this hunt. That being said, the surface itself, which clocks in at a near two and a half hour runtime, is stellar, fully engaging from start to finish. Perhaps if I was American though, accomplishing the mission would have felt more personally satisfying.


Candice Frederick said...

the film doesn't employ any emotional investment from its viewer, which may be why you didn't feel anything at the end. but other than that it's a good movie. but that's a major fault.

Black Sheep said...

I fully agree. It is very straight forward and, aside from there feeling like there is no deeper meaning to anything, the emotional connection is non-existent. It still works very well but it didn't blow me away, like The Hurt Locker did.