Zero Dark Thirty review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
An intense but captivating movie Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of how a CIA investigation lead to the location of the most wanted man in the world, Osama Bin Laden.
Starring Jessica Chastain (The Help) as Maya, a novice CIA agent recruited straight out of high school who believes that the key to locating Osama Bin Laden lies in locating one of his most high ranking officers, one of several brothers working for Al Qaeda. Doubted by many of her superiors most of Maya’s initial leads go nowhere and it appears that the man she is looking for may have been dead for many years; however as the film progresses the hunt for Bin Laden continues and, covering an entire decade, the film details the lengths to which the American forces go to in order to apprehend this mass murderer.
With detailed and first person experiences of incidents many of us witnessed on the news Zero Dark Thirty is both moving and mesmerising. The character development slow and intricate each event plays out as though entirely new and seen for the first time.
With some violent and genuinely unpleasant scenes Zero Dark Thirty is not an easy film to watch, Maya’s determined attitude sometimes causes her to seem rather unlikeable, whilst the interrogation tactic’s used by the American’s in the first half of the film certainly leave them appearing as a particularly unlovable bunch.
This once supposed “necessary evil” is stopped with a firm hand upon the inauguration of President Obama, yet Maya’s motivation does not waver. Interestingly there is not heart breaking back-story that explains Maya’s behaviour, Bigelow chooses to stick solely with the facts and events that directly affect the investigation; giving an edge to the patriotism shown by Maya that goes beyond the regular duties of state.
By the end both Maya and the audience are exhausted (which is unsurprising considering the film’s two and a half hour length); the tense and gripping ride ending in a tight but disorienting raid that realizes all of Maya’s hard work. Feeling put through the wringer Maya collapses on a plane, finally returning to America, whilst the audience sits back – finally able to let go of the edge of their seats and release their long held breath – revelling in the successful execution of a military operation so fascinating and powerful it seemed more real than watching the events unfold on the aforementioned news.