Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Did you know? “00 dark 30” in military terms means an unspecified time in the early morning hours usually when it is still dark outside, usually said as “oh dark thirty” (according to its IMDb trivia page).

Zero Dark ThirtyZero Dark Thirty

Release Date: January 13, 2012 (wide release)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Stars: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler

Runtime: 157 min

Tagline: The greatest manhunt in history

With Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow proves she is one of the best directors in the business. She is especially one of the best directors to direct a war or history drama.

Zero Dark Thirty is a chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011.

The only main character, Maya (Jessica Chastain), is followed the closest during this film. The beautiful and talented Chastain does an astounding job of portraying her. She really captures the real feelings she would be feeling. The character is a highly ambitious character whose motivations get fueled by deaths of her friends over the years. As they go through a series of leads, they get to Abu Ahmed, said to be Osama’s messenger. While Maya is the main, and practically only (for the most part), protagonist, Osama is most obviously the antagonist, no matter how hidden he may be.

This film depicts the manhunt for bin Laden extremely well. While we, the audience, don’t know what exactly happened, this film gives us a general idea. And boy, is it ever usually enthralling. Especially the last hour, and it makes for one of the best sixty minutes of cinema this year. The first 97 minutes of the feature is a solid introduction of what’s to come. While it may not be entertaining, it is fascinating and I was compelled to listen to what the flick had to say.

This feature is mostly controversial for its disturbing yet oddly compelling and inarguably intense torture scenes. Bigelow’s intention wasn’t to be an advocate for torture, and she isn’t. It is simply an aspect that did happen in the hunt for Osama. Would you give up Osama’s location that easily, if they knew very well who are? A monster that ordered the 9/11 attacks? No, because he is a powerful man whose people will find and kill you. It’s a frightening thing, and one couldn’t necessarily give up that easily. They have to be tortured, no matter how bad that sounds – it’s the honest, unfortunate truth.

The controversy is embedded in the film, but this gripping feature’s purpose is to rouse the spirits of patriots everywhere. Even if you are not American, the 9/11 attacks shook the world, and this is simply a story everyone would enjoy watching unfold. No matter how sensitive the case of something like 9/11, this is an important film depicting, yes, the greatest manhunt in history. While this may not be as magnificent as The Hurt Locker, this is nonetheless a very unique and memorable experience.

In a nutshell: Zero Dark Thirty is an extremely important film that depicts the greatest manhunt ever executed. It also shows us that Osama really isn’t the ultimate winner at Hide’n Go Seek, that’s Waldo. This feature is controversial because of its disturbing torture sequences, but it is necessary to be included in a film such as this. Bigelow’s direction, Mark Boal’s expert writing, its gripping story, its astounding final sixty minutes, and Jessica Chastain’s incredible portrayal of Maya, make it one of the best history dramas of 2012. You did it again Bigelow, I can’t wait to see what you give us next.

88/100

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4 Responses to Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Daniel. One of my favorites of the year just because it kept me on the edge of my seat, strictly through dialect and conversations.

  2. Yeah, Bigelow definitely crafts a winner here, doesnt she Dan? Taut and harrowing. Chastain is great, too. I had to give her best actress when I was doing my year end awards. I like the fact that they didnt shy away from the torture element, especially seeing as it was a part of the true story. The films neutral stance on it makes it all the more challenging.

    One of the best movies of the year in my opinion. I’m with you on this one.

    • Daniel Prinn says:

      She really does. Before seeing this, I would have loved to see Jennifer Lawrence to win the Oscar for Best Actress, but now I think Chastain will take the little man home… It really is necessary for the feature, and it just wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t included.

      I might make an update of my top 25 of 2012 mid-year, and if I did that, it will most definitely make the list. Do you like this or The Hurt Locker more?

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