Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow’s most ambitious project to date, centers on an the elite American intelligence units that worked for years on end to find an eliminate one of biggest faces of global terrorism: Osama Bin Laden. A favorite at the Oscars, like Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal’s last effort The Hurt Locker, ZDT is an edge-of-your seat thrill ride that starts out slow and builds up to the final sucker punch that is the final thirty minutes of eerie calmness the perpetuates the famous (albeit mysterious) raid. A superb work of cinema in many aspects, this “true story” thinks on it’s feet for the opening and closing acts, but I can’t get over how uneven the tone feels, especially in the thick of the film. The torture and raids were effective and concise, which was where the movie operated best. Unfortunately, when you toss in Boal’s heavy dialogue that bridges those two reels you run into some problems, especially when Jessica Chastain flexes her proverbial muscles by proclaiming “I’m the motherf***** that found this place” to the director of the CIA. I get it, I really do. Maya was the driving force behind Bin Laden’s death and she is a fearless, confident, and ruthless operative – one of the best. But damn! That line made me laugh out loud at how absurd it was, and then made me squirm in my seat for a second or two when I realized how awkward and out of place it sounded. By no means did Chastain do a bad job as Maya. By no means was Boal’s script not good. And by no means should Bigelow’s direction be called into question. I just couldn’t get over little sections of the film like that, of which there were too many by the film’s end. I enjoyed Zero Dark Thirty, but it suffered from an abundance of over-hype from audiences and critics alike, and by the end of the film I was left wanting more. But I have to give credit where credit is due – unlike The Hurt Locker, Bigelow wasn’t out to make a statement. She let the viewer decide what to make of the film, it’s contents, and how the most notorious terrorist in American history was brought to justice, and ultimately, that’s more powerful than any commentary could have been.
3-1/2 out of 5 Stars