Everyone and their mother knows the ending, we are all just along for the ride.
When you make a film about the investigation and the execution of assassinating Osama Bin Ladin, that is the basic idea.
In “Zero Dark Thirty,” we all know what the ending is going to be and are hoping the adventure that the filmmakers take us through is at least moderately entertaining. It was beyond that.
Kathryn Bigelow returns to a Middle-Eastern war setting with her latest film, and her return is rather triumphant. With a political premise, this film was already easy Oscar-bait, but when you take into consideration the execution, there is no doubt about its potential for a Best Picture win.
Not to say that “Zero Dark Thirty” is easily the best film of the year, because it isn’t, but it is one of the most well-made films of the year and fits the category of what one would call an “Oscar film”
One of the most impressive feats of the film is that the hard work put into it shows. As I was sitting in the theater, I could easily tell that there was a lot of effort put into this piece and couldn’t really find any spots of laziness or missed opportunities.
The film mainly focuses around Jessica Chastain’s character, Maya, who is a young woman with the CIA. Maya leads the charge in trying to find Bin Ladin. She puts on one of the best performances of the year and one of she has one of the most commanding presences I’ve seen in a while. There is no doubt that she is the odds on favorite for Best Actress.
While her character had depth to it and her performance was fantastic, she was really the main focus so there was some ground lost on other characters. This doesn’t downgrade the film much, but it was something that could have improved it even more.
Another small issue was the run time. At 2 hours and 40 minutes, the film is rather long. Sometimes this works as an advantage when the film calls for an “epic” style of narrative, but there were several instances within the film where some scenes began to drag.
The dragging did help because when the “hunt” occurred near the end of the film, it was such a jump in pacing that it caused a lot of excitement. The run time could have been cut down by about 10 minutes or so.
Be warned because this is not your typical “war film.” While there are a lot of exciting parts, a majority of the film does take place in an office setting and involves a lot of research and “behind the glory” analysis, so it may not be for everyone.
Another worry some audiences may have has to do with the subject matter. It would be easy to assume that Bigelow might try to push a political view on the audience. That isn’t the case with this film though. She presents material that will be debated, but there isn’t a specific stance taken.
There are several spots in the film that highlight intense interrogation and torture and it may be uncomfortable for some. Others may not agree with the ethics of the characters, but those ethics do provide an interesting view and some viewers may actually begin to understand why torture in war-times can be necessary.
Ultimately, the acting and directing are stellar in “Zero Dark Thirty” and I urge any audience member to go see it in a theater as quick as possible.