“Zero Dark Thirty” Review: A Solid Entertaining Docudrama Experience

by on January 11, 2013

in Entertainment, movie reviews

Zero Dark Thirty movie poster

Zero Dark Thirty movie review by Bruce Simmons.

This is the tale of the chase for Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 terrorist attack.  And it does a good job of portraying the intelligence efforts necessary to get a job like this done because in the realm of military intelligence, it takes more than a one-hour episode to resolve issues like pursuing a terrorist.  And this movie drives that point home.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty movie review

Director/producer Kathryn Bigelow took the wartime movie genre up a notch in my eyes.  I thought she did a great job with The Hurt Locker and wwith Zero Dark Thirty, she drew me into that world as I found myself being frustrated and relieved

The tale follows the analyst efforts of Maya, played by Jessica Chastain. We learn that Maya was hired out of high school and the only thing she’s been doing since joining the agency was sifting through clues and evidence left behind by bin Laden.  After the 9/11 attacks she travels overseas to the hot seat of the action.

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty

We follow Maya on her journey, as she finds herself introduced to interrogation methods, intelligence data gathering, sorting through the clues and other related events.  We experience her dedication as the years wear on her until the day this leads up to.

The cast ensemble is huge and there’s a recognizable face in almost every scene.  We have Jason Clarke (Lawless), Kyle Chandler (Argo, Super 8), Harold Perrineau (Lost, Sons of Anarchy), Mark Strong (John Carter), and even “Capt. Jack” was in it!

Chastain delivered Maya wonderfully through the various stages of the pursuit, from the numb shock of first being exposed to interrogating prisoners all the way through to the point where she references herself as the mother f*r who located the target.

Kyle Chandler in Zero Dark Thirty

And Chandler delivered the consummate intelligence field boss.

But I must warn the movie consumer in this review.  This is a realistic war movie drama.  The first half of the movie involves the intelligence efforts.  Bigelow did not sugar coat the intricacies of weeding through the clues.  I think some of the movie-goers in my screening were expecting more of an action-based experience because a few folks got up and left before the real fun began.

Zero Dark Thirty review

And the real fun begins when Maya THINKS she’s located bin Laden, by process of lengthy elimination.  And then it goes from there.  And even though we know the story, it’s still a pretty tense experience watching the military strike team execute their procedures of the operation.  Then again, this is Kathryn Bigelow.  She delivered big time with The Hurt Locker and I did not leave this movie with any disappointments.

In fact the raid on the film seems to mirror most popular accounts of the raid.

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This is an exceptional movie through and through as you are drawn into the world of this clandestine action.  I’d recommend Zero Dark Thirty, no matter what the venue you end up seeing it in.

Plus, I think it’s our duty to pay homage to this action to capture an enemy of the United States. It’s a kind of closure.

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Right now Jason Clarke is working on 3 new movies… White House Down, The Great Gatsby and The Green Blade Rises.

Kyle Chandler also has 3 movies coming up…  The Wolf of Wall Street, Broken City and The Spectacular Now.

Jessica Chastain has Mama, The Disappearance of Eleanor Right and Good People (rumor) in the production pipeline.

Director Kathryne Bigelow is working on her next project, Triple Frontier.

About 

Bruce has been been writing for the web since 1999. He likes to take a more pragmatic approach to most of the news and marketing that gets floated out there while still keeping a light tone about it.

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