Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t leave much, if anything, to the imagination when it comes to showing how Seal Team Six took the terrorists down at the compound in Iraq. That’s not really a spoiler because we all found out at the same time on May 2, 2011. It also didn’t take long for a film to come out about the subject either, but luckily for Bigelow she had already been developing a screenplay on Osama Bin Laden when the news quickly poured the world over.
The film is technically impressive. The Abbottabad, Pakistan operation was incredibly directed and compound itself wasn’t only a set, but was built from scratch overseas. “It’s as close as you can get to the real thing,” said Bigelow in a featurette. The lighting is masterful or as close as you can get to perfection aside from a few shoddy scenes. Some say the film is propaganda for American jingoists, due to the lack of substance and human emotion. The most exciting scenes aside from the thrilling conclusion are about as stimulating as watching women’s collegiate hurdles.
The film is led by Maya (Jessica Chastain) and Dan (Jason Clarke). Maya is a tough woman, who is pretty much the only character interested in actually capturing Osama Bin Laden. She finds a clue and has to convince someone to allow her to use their services, even though they’re all on the same team…. This happens maybe three or four times in the film’s two-and-a-half-hour long running time, which can get pretty exhausting. Jason Clarke is probably where the film did everything right. Getting answers is just a part of his job and he will do whatever it takes to get them as he water boards and abashes the terrorists until they fess up. Dan has completely sacrificed his humanity by spending most of his lonely life taking that of others. It just all ties in way too nicely with Maya on a flight home, but that’s how it happens in real life. Maybe, but the film does require a lot of suspension of disbelief to pretend it’s real. A lot of the things seem to happen too conveniently for the sake of the filmmaker’s convenience.
Aside from some formulaic writing, which is why the academy would have never recognized it as Best Picture, Zero Dark Thirty is a breath of fresh air if you can sit through its bloated running time. That seems to be the problem in Hollywood these days. Not every movie needs to be an epic. Zero Dark Thirty does a lot right and it’s definitely worth a watch depending on the type of film you’re into. If you like slow-moving action movies with a little more substance than most and can overlook some less than decent writing with purposely big words, this is one for you. I think it’ll be appreciated by a lot of people for a long time to come.