Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ZERO DARK THIRTY Review - Javi's Take

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Written by: Mark Boal
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jason Clark and Jennifer Ehle
Synopsis: The story of the hunt of Osama Bin Laden through the eyes of a CIA analyst.

It feels good to be writing a review for a newer movie. I finally caught up with one of the most talked about movies of the last few months, director Kathryn Bigelow's, ZERO DARK THIRTY. The story deals with the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and stars Jessica Chastain along with 90% of Hollywood for this military procedural. While I found the fact that the movie condenses one of the biggest episodes of modern history through the eyes of one driven woman pretty fascinating, the movie just ends up coming up short of a truly great movie.

To me, the movie has two huge highlights; Jessica Chastain's performance as Maya, and (spoiler alert for recent history?) the very suspenseful and amazingly edited raid on the Osama Bin Laden compound. Maya is a big point of contention. I actually had the argument as to whether she was a blank slate or not with my friend Sarah, who saw this with me. According to Sarah, there was absolutely nothing in the script that would make you understand this woman's motivations or decisions. I disagree to a point.                                                                                                  

It's very true that Maya is never explicitly given a back story, and we don't know much about her before the events of the movie begin. However, I think that she's a super interesting character as long as you pay attention to the details. I took a lot of notes regarding bits and pieces of dialogue in the conversations she had with other characters, which gives us insight into her. The fact that she's been recruited out of high school straight to the CIA implying that she must have been extreme form of genius or she was some crazy hacker/troublemaker. Romantically, we only hear about the fact that she doesn't have a boyfriend, and for the entire movie did not have any romantic relationships. Not only that, but she grew to be increasingly notorious, cold, and even a little unhinged as the movie went on. This all goes to show a highly driven and potentially disturbed and obsessed person.

The movie is more a character study on ambition and obsession than the actual hunt of Bin Laden. If anything, this movie could be compared a little bit more to THE SOCIAL NETWORK where the movie isn't about the hunt, but the obsession. Thinking over what actually happens in the movie, it leads me to believe that this is the "intended" interpretation of this movie. There's little details like at the end when they finally shoot Bin Laden, there's not a big showdown, and it all feels very matter-of-fact. And the final scene of the movie to me sums up all of that.

As a movie, I can see why this was nominated as a best picture. It's a gripping story showing tension in both meeting rooms and on the actual battle at the end even if we know how this story plays out. Bigelow gets great performances of Chastain and 90% of Hollywood who are minor characters in this movie, but in terms of cinematography, color palette, it just felt like a straight continuation of THE HURT LOCKER. Still, this was an important story that needed to be told. Whether now was the right time is a completely different argument, I'll just say I'm glad it came out now.



  1. Really a good movie. Jessica is so natural that you can almost feel her pain and frustration. And one thing which hurts me all the time--why my beloved India lack the same determination to kill all those a**h***s who are killing innocent people and spilling blood down the streets. They just play politics. Anyways that's another discussion--go4 this movie without girlfriend probably :)

  2. One of Good movies this year... Not the best for sure. Made for America to appeasement in response to 9/11 attack. But more goof ups and 20 mins climax are the draw backs. And i agree India cannot make these type of movies letalone releasing here.