Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty"

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Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty"

Post by Deviss on Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:20 pm

Deviss wrote:Can I be honest with you? I am bad f---ing news. I'm not your friend. I'm not gonna help you. I'm gonna break you. Any questions?

  • Story: Five Stars
  • Acting: Five Stars
  • Directing: Four and a half Stars
  • Visuals: Four and a half Stars
  • Overall: Four and a half Stars

Even though I watched this movie last night, or speaking technically early this morning, I still have no solid idea of how I want to go about reviewing it. Before you jump to conclusions, it is not because "Zero Dark Thirty" was a bad movie; granted it dragged at a couple places here and there but that is to be expected from a movie such as this. It wasn't even because of poor performances from the actors and actresses. My continued feelings on "Zero Dark Thirty" are ones that, I would assume, everyone could understand. This will probably be the single review that has taken the most time for me to properly address and or review.

This review will also mark the first time where I voluntarily choose to not give a summary of the plot because frankly there is no need for one. Any American, by now, should at least be familiar with the evens that took place on the morning of the eleventh of September twelve years ago. One question I've heard in abundance in the years following is, "Where were you when it all happened?" I was in my third grade class going about whatever we were doing that day without a care in the world. It wasn't until I'd gotten home later that day and my mother had turned on the news that the reality and gravity of what had happened just a few short hours ago became evident.

One thing that surprised me was how "Zero Dark Thirty" opened. We weren't subjected to an opening montage of clips of old news footage from that tragic morning. Nor were we put through a stilted, one-sided introduction that led into an overblown escapade. That wouldn't fit with director Kathryn Bigelow's style. Instead for almost two full minutes all that could be heard were clips of various audio recordings. There was nothing on-screen, just a black nothingness. However the combination of those two things managed to stir up more emotions than, I think, any other method could have.

From there we're shown various "titles" of what will be focused on in that particular part of the movie. Another thing that I am very glad that Kathryn Bigelow decided against was having "Zero Dark Thirty" take place immediately after the attacks happened. That would be a ridiculous decision that, potentially, would have made things even worse for everyone involved. But even though I've only seen a grand total of two of her movies, Kathryn Bigelow hasn't ever taken subjects such as this lightly. At the earliest, "Zero Dark Thirty" takes place two to three years after the events of September eleventh.

Throughout the course of "Zero Dark Thirty" everything is presented in a very straightforward and factual manner. This isn't a sensationalistic presentation of the "greatest manhunt in history". This isn't a Michael Bay movie. Every choice made by the people involved, whether it be about a meeting with an informant, continued interrogation of a supposed acquaintance of Osama bin Laden, or what method to use to guarantee his termination, every single choice has weight behind it. And the gravity of those choices and actions, what plays out on-screen, is wonderfully conveyed by Jessica Chastain and her performance.

The way the trailer was cut together (or at least the one I've seen) made it seem like she would take a backseat to the U.S. Navy SEAL team that would eventually be inserted into the area where bin Laden is supposedly hiding. That is not the case at all and in hindsight it was foolish of me to assume such a thing. At one point it is aptly said that this, what we are seeing is her "baby". The character of "Maya" hasn't done anything else in the twelve years that she was with the CIA. It is because of that level of dedication that we sympathize with her; when a lead turns out to be false or a friend ends up being killed in a meet-gone-wrong. I seriously hope that she receives the recognition that at this point is greatly overdue.

It isn't my intention to push aside any one actor, actress or their performance, but the only others worth mentioning were those of Jason Clarke's "Dan" and, to an extent, Joel Edgerton's "Patrick". While the latter isn't given much screen time, the former is one of the first people we see. Before I started this review I was well aware of the controversy that has come to surround "Zero Dark Thirty". From allegations of partisanship to improper access to classified information and a pro-toture stance, I can understand where such things would be called into question. I do not agree with them personally, certain things had to be done that wouldn't be liked to find bin Laden and it was up to those people to live with them.

As expected, the most exciting, intense sequence was when Joel Edgerton and his SEALs stepped into the two helicopters that will taken them to the compound in question. As enjoyable as that part was, the scenes that I found more interesting than anything else was when the SEALs had their night vision on and we were looking through their perspective. There was little to no music played during that portion of the film; the only sounds that were heard were the hushed voices of the men involved, the silenced gunshots, and occasional explosions made by breaching charges. But by far the moment that had me on the edge of my seat and bated breath was when one of the SEALs called out, "Osama!"

To this day I can still remember the address made by president Obama stating, "We got him."

Even though they will never be properly recognized for the seemingly endless hours of poring over research and every other material imaginable, I would like to thank them for putting as much continued effort into the greatest manhunt in history. And I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed Kathryn's previous movie "The Hurt Locker". While I would not be surprised if another director attempted to cover this topic, I seriously doubt anyone else will be able to do it as well.

This was a review by tMG, thank you for reading.

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Re: Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty"

Post by frang on Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:15 pm

Sorry, but fictional portrayals of real events always leave me cold. Call it the Military Channel Syndrome if you will. The real stuff about the real stuff is much more interesting and appealing than Hollywood's attempts to make a buck off of real stuff. I suppose it's why I haven't gone to see Lincoln, even though I'm an immense admirer of the real man.

I'm not totally consistent in this, since I do like The King's Speech very much, and I do like a few war movies. And I loved Gangs of New York. I have no problem with historical settings for my fictional entertainment. But generally speaking, I try to keep my facts and my fiction separate. The hype around both Lincoln and this movie don't help the matter, either.


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