Culture Street

Review: Zero Dark Thirty

On February 6, 2013

By Rebecca McRitchie

Gripping, suspenseful and superbly made, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is an intelligent portrayal of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader, Osama bin Laden.

Although we are aware of the ultimate outcome, Bigelow presents the story through a relatively unknown point of view. The story follows elite CIA operative, Maya (Jessica Chastain), and her relentless intelligence and pursuit of leads to uncover the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. For years, Maya devotes herself to finding bin Laden and even spends half of that time convincing others of his whereabouts due to the copious amounts of red tape. Defined by only her work, Maya fights for her leads even if it means unwillingly participating in extreme duress tactics, blackmailing those higher in the CIA who impede her progress because of her gender and inexperience, or just constantly harassing others to get things done.

Bigelow’s greatest achievements are not only casting Jessica Chastain, but also her ability as a director to not fall into exaggerated theatrics. Bigelow methodically strips the action and uses handheld camera and strong characters to present a film thankfully devoid of extreme patriotic flag-waving. Besides starring the exceptional Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty also stars Kyle Chandler and Australia’s own Jason Clarke and Joel Edgerton, who all give very solid performances.

Overall, I give Zero Dark Thirty 4 out of 5.With an exceptional lead, a great screenplay and probably the most apt director of a war-related film, Zero Dark Thirty ticks every box.

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