2013 / Director. Kathryn Bigelow.
Zero Dark Thirty chronicles the decade long man-hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It follows a young female CIA analyst who was recruited out of high school and assigned directly to gathering intelligence on the whereabouts of him. Beginning with early scenes of torture and degradation of suspects, the film deals with those ugly details quickly before getting stuck into the finite investigation, infiltration and eventual capture. The film's release came relatively quickly following Bin Laden's death and I was initially suspicious of it being one big American pride slogan... and while there is definitely a sense of bravado about it, the film is well restrained and handled sensibly. One can only assume that much of the information we are getting is accurate but it's important to be aware that some of it is bound to be fabricated and/or manipulated for various reasons. And so, while the curiosity factor of the actual story is high, a greater part of me approached the film as though fictional. It's simply a great war film. Kathryn Bigelow is a seasoned pro when it comes to filming action and this film is a worthy companion to The Hurt Locker (though not quite as good). The performances are great with Jessica Chastain holding the entire movie on her own. She ages her character brilliantly, beginning as a young and enthusiastic rookie to an exhausted and experienced professional. Some criticisms over the depiction of torture have plagued Zero Dark Thirty with people arguing that it's a pro-torture propaganda piece. I disagree. While the film definitely does suggest such measures to be beneficial, it isn't an endorsement. The fact is that realistically torture would have brought results in some cases and the film itself also shows where it didn't . The film also depicts the moment when Barack Obama put an end to military torture. So of course torture was a fact and to ignore it would have only drawn greater criticisms. Moving on, I was a little amused towards the end when the movie finally introduces the elite team of navy seals who are to kill Bin Laden... they're mostly made up of Aussie actors. What the? Nevertheless the final assault of his compound is brilliantly recreated. Even though I knew the outcome I was still on the edge of my seat. At a lengthy running time of 157 minutes the film maintains momentum and doesn't over stay it's welcome.