Saturday, January 5, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty - Movie Review

After achieving critical success with The Hurt Locker, it would seem that Kathryn Bigelow would be an ideal candidate to direct the story of how C.I.A. operatives and a Navy SEAL team took down Osama Bin Laden. Throw in a powerhouse cast headlined by Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, and Joel Edgerton and you have a movie that is sure to head down that same successful path.

Over a ten year period, Maya's (Jessica Chastain) job with the CIA was to discover and track down leads that would ultimately bring about the capture or death of Al Qaeda's leader, Osama Bin Laden. She was witness to and participated in some seriously hardcore interrogation sessions which ultimately put her and her team on the trail of a man that could lead them to the world's most wanted criminal.

With leads going cold, attempts to meet with sources leading to tragic results, and a continued stream of terrorist activity going on around the world, the powers that be start to doubt whether or not Bin Laden can be caught and look to turn to lesser targets to achieve some semblance of victory in the war on terrorism. With everything seeming to work against her, Maya still refuses to give up on making the one discovery that could lead to completing her mission.

If I was to give you one reason why you need to see this movie, it would have to be Jessica Chastain. This rising powerhouse of an actress gives a performance that will have her raking in tons of best actress nominations and more than a few victories as well. Watching her take command of this motion picture is truly impressive and you feel every emotion of her relentless march towards the story's tension-filled climax. I have been a fan of her for a while now and her portrayal of Maya cements her position as one of my current favorite actors.

After not being as impressed as most people with The Hurt Locker, I wasn't sure how much I would like this latest effort from Kathryn Bigelow, but you can definitely see where she has pulled a much more cohesive effort out of Mark Boal's impressive screenplay. While there isn't the same consistent level of grab-your-armchair tension like Ben Affleck was able to convey in Argo, Bigelow does a great job of walking the audience through some seriously dramatic moments with strong acting performances that all build up to the heart pounding conclusion.

If you like to watch a high quality ensemble cast do their thing then you will be very happy with Chastain, Mark Strong, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, James Gandolfini, and Joel Edgerton who are all at the top of their game in this movie. Pulling out great performances seems to be Bigelow's main strength as a director as well as having the ability to create raw images that maintain a cinematic feel to them rather than falling in to the trap of simulating a documentary aesthetic.

Zero Dark Thirty is not only an entertaining movie, but it is also an important piece of history that everyone should take the time to see.

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