TF Film Review: Zero Dark Thirty (2013)

This is the story of the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden and is director Kathryn Bigelow’s first movie since ’The Hurt Locker‘ (2008) which was critically acclaimed. I can’t say that I ever really went along with the hype of that film but I guess its success made it much easier for the ‘Zero Dark Thirty‘ story to be told.

It is not your typical Hollywood movie and doesn’t really have a plot as such but is more about tracking and killing Osama Bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda. The protagonist is CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) who is initially quite shocked at the tactics used by CIA interrogator Dan (Jason Clarke). He humiliates, beats and water boards one suspect in a fairly heavy first third of the movie yet despite this I still feel his character comes across as being more charismatic than Maya. Not such a bad thing though in my opinion and it is testament to Chastain’s acting that she is able to deliver a subdued and restrained performance. There is no attempt to draw the viewer in with any human sentiment by way of character development scenes or the often-used flashbacks which are paramount to the success of most films. I didn’t really care for that though as the story was gripping enough without needing such stuff to help move the story along.

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I went into this film with almost no knowledge of the subject matter other than that it was more about finding the worlds most dangerous man than the events of 9/11. As someone who has been fairly ignorant of such news I was armed with less information and facts than most viewers and therefore had no expectations going in to the cinema. I’m sure the real events were a bit different but as an entertaining piece of documentary-style film (without harder hitting questions of whether it was all worth it) I was more than happy with how it all came together on screen.

Even though 157 minutes is too long for a movie where we all know the outcome it’s still a very tense and breathtaking finale as you don’t really know how its gonna be portrayed. The raid on Bin Laden’s hideout (filmed on a specially constructed set in the deserts of Jordan) had me literally on the edge of my seat. The scenes of the Navy SEALs flying in to siege the place are compelling and with it shot to replicate the zero dark thirty (military code for the time 00:30) raid it brings another sense of meaning to the word dark in a film with very dark themes. Worth seeing in the total darkness of a cinema for that reason.

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Tokyo Fox Rating 8/10

 

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