Zero Dark Thirty (2012) | Movie Review

Zero Dark Thirty.jpg

Release date: December 19, 2012 (limited) / January 11, 2013
Runtime: 2 hr. 37 min.
MPAA rating: R

Kathryn Bigelow is at it again: this time she brings us a decade-long story of hunting down Osama bin Laden. The film has generated so much hype and Oscar buzz, that it's a must-see just for that reason alone. I have to say, the hype is well deserved and, while it's not something I would ever want to watch again, it's definitely a great film and a major contender for the upcoming Academy Awards.

The outcome of the story is something everyone is already familiar with. However, the personal struggles of Jessica Chastain's character Maya and the events that lead up to the finale are a whole different story. The film opens with the tragedy of 9/11 and covers the manhunt in detail, showing the milestones in the investigation. Two years after the attack Maya, a CIA operative, is sent to help investigate the Saudi Group. The viewers are thrown right into a very disturbing interrogation scene and watch her get through the initial shock. As the film goes on, we see Maya grab onto a lead after lead, not willing to give up or compromise, growing stronger and pushing harder. While we all know how this ends, the journey is what keeps the viewers captivated.

There is no doubt Jessica Chastain will be nominated for an Oscar for this role and I'm pretty sure she will win it - her performance is outstanding. Maya is not your typical Hollywood heroine: determined, focused and strong, she follows what she believes and her goal is to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Chastain makes her feel real: even with the stakes that high and the ridiculous pressure we see her as a human being, we feel what she feels. The rest of the cast deserves the praise as well - the chemistry is undeniable and the relationships seem genuine. Whether or not you like the other characters, you do not doubt them for a second.

Zero Dark Thirty is probably the most serious film I have ever seen. My initial reaction to it was that it almost felt like a documentary, a reenactment of true events. There are no flashy visual effects, no epic action scenes, no over the top drama - it's just an honest depiction of something that happened, a story that needed to be told. The film feels as real as it can, even though none of us will even know the whole truth behind the operation. While it may seem a bit confusing at times and the runtime is definitely long, there is noting unnecessary in it - every minute is there for a reason. The first couple of minutes and the very last scene of the film are some of the most powerful things I've seen on screen. It's hard to compare this movie to anything else because it's certainly different, even within the genre. It's also hard to say "I really liked it" because the subject is so heavy and so close to heart - this isn't something you see to have a good time.

The film is definitely not for everybody, even though everyone should know this story. It's not something I can call "entertainment", but it is a story well told. This movie definitely takes the non-commercial approach to the events and that's one of the many things that make it good. Zero Dark Thirty is intense, dark, unique, graphic at times, it can be tough to watch, but you won't look away.