Hot on the heels of Osama bin Laden being killed by American special forces came the announcement that the events surrounding the deadly mission and the hunt for the man would be made into a movie. Zero Dark Thirty is the movie, but does history so current and without facts so apparent make for a movie worthy of your time?
Zero Dark Thirty was directed by Kathryn Bigelow who too her previous military based movie The Hurt Locker all the way to an Oscar win. The movie stars Jessica Chastain as CIA operative hell-bent on working her leads that she believes will reveal the whereabouts of the numero uno wanted for terrorist acts man Osama bin Laden. The journey takes you behind the scenes as the CIA puts together all of the information and leads in a puzzle that sometimes turns violent.
The first problem a movie like this has involve historical accuracy and most of us are not privy to the type of information that would be needed to call out Zero Dark Thirty on its Hollywood-ization of the truth. Therefore, if you are able to just forget that it is all meant to be “reality” and can take it at movie value for what it is worth then that is probably best.
The first sections of the movie may make it hard for some to “get into it.” The reason for this is the “torture.” Zero Dark Thirty is a torture movie out of the gates, investigating the scandal around the different methods of gaining information from detainees. To many this is not going to be entertaining, however, I do think that the actors were able to balance the line with their characters and keep the pace running and bring a level of intrigue to it. Mostly actor Jason Clarke, who is the lead torturer, helps the scenes remain interesting. The psychological aspects to the pain game do give the scenes a sense of intrigue in terms of the types of humans capable of holding such a job and willing to do it for their country. Overall, I don’t think this aspect, which has been a media speaking point about the movie, should scare you off: unless of course you are not able to accept the movie and the drama as a movie instead of the constant debate about reality that is intertwined with the project.
Jessica Chastain’s character is a strong one and her acting talent is on-par for sure. One could compare her to other empowered females in film such as Erin Brockovich. However, what kills this for me was the fact that every time the woman is correct on a hunch or does something cool they will have a male character make a comment about how cute she is or chuckle at her stubbornness. It felt to me like the strength of this woman was always undermined, which may be how life goes, but even in her wins she seemed to be marginalized as just “cute” as she navigates a man’s world.
Ultimately Zero Dark Thirty is a drama with some boom, that I thought was worth a one time viewing. The “thriller” aspects of it are in place if you like spy games, however, the runtime of the movie hindered the formula a little bit. It felt like a light brushing over of history and I personally cannot just let it lie as a movie when based on such current historical events. It did not pack in the entertainment value of Bigelow’s previous action film The Hurt Locker for me. On a scale of YAY, NAY, or OKAY I’d vote it was just okay.