Monday, January 28, 2013
REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty
Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke
December 19, 2012 (NY/LA)
January 11, 2013 (WIDE)
2 hours 37 minutes
I remember the day when President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by SEAL Team Six who raided on his compound in Abbottabad. Knowing that the man responsible for that fatal day in 2001 had finally been obliterated from the earth was both a perplexing and interesting feeling to myself since I had only known of this man as the guy who caused 9/11 and that he was a terrorist. Seeing 'Zero Dark Thirty' gave me a different perspective on what's being advertised as "the greatest manhunt in history." It's one thing to know that the US Government has been hunting Bin Laden for over a decade. It's another thing to see the CIA torture, kill, and argue with terrorists in some of the sickest ways imaginable. Along with sublime acting, a powerful story/final 45 minutes, and a feeling of never being "safe" from an attack throughout the film makes 'Zero Dark Thirty' an empowering and incredible piece of filmmaking that should be seen for years to come.
It's hard to judge who gave the best performance in the film since one actor stole the show in the first hour of the film, while another actor stole the show for the rest of the film. The actor who stole the show in the first hour of this movie was Jason Clarke. In the first half hour of the film it's shown that Clarke's character Dan interrogates his prisoners who are believed to have worked with Bin Laden in the attacks by torturing them in a brutal way involving water. What's great about Clarke's character is how he tortures the prisoners. The way he does it makes the performance more believable and the overall effect more powerful. In my opinion I strongly think that Clarke was snubbed at the Oscars because of his empowering performance. Hell, he was much more entertaining than Alan "Argo F**k Yourself" Arkin for 'Argo' which he got nominated for. Hopefully Clarke gets another chance soon to wow the Academy and audiences everywhere really soon.
The second half of the movie was stolen by Jessica Chastain's performances as Maya, the woman who in the end is responsible for finding the location of Osama Bin Laden. The film for the most part follows Maya's experiences in trying to find Bin Laden, which includes learning how to interrogate foreign terrorists into finding him. Like I said prior, Clarke steals the first hour of the film with his ferocious and gripping performance. However once he "leaves" the film to have a smaller role, Chastain comes thundering in and gives a performance that electrifies what would have been really boring dialogue sequences. There is one scene in particular where she's arguing with Kyle Chandler about something involving Bin Laden that is incredibly powerful and effective overall. Even the final scene of the film shows how great of an actress Chastain really is. As for best female performance of the year, I still believe that Jennifer Lawrence occupies that slot for 'Silver Linings Playbook.' However if Chastain gets all of the gold during awards season, I won't be disappointed at all. This is a performance that makes actresses A-listers.
As for the rest of the performances of the film, everyone did a great job. Mark Strong is fantastic from the first minute he shows up, and overall gives an effective performance that shows how good of an actor he really is. Kyle Chandler never fails to disappoint, and this movie is no exception to that. Even though it's not a groundbreaking performance, Chandler still gives it his all and delivers a solid performance. Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton show up for the final 45 minutes of the film and deliver on being entertaining soldiers that carry the big raid scene with force. James Gandolfini and Mark Duplass even have small roles in the movie and are overall good. There isn't a single nit pick I can make about this cast because everyone delivered on solid performances. As great as all of the actors were, the true star of the film is in fact Kathryn Bigelow.
I've only seen clips from Bigelow's Oscar winning flick 'The Hurt Locker,' but I could tell from what I saw that she is a very talented director. What she brings to this movie is a film that perfectly balances acting and in room drama with intense torture and terrorist situations that makes the audience never feel safe to an extent. The final raid scene at Bin Laden's compound, though not quite as heart pounding as the final half hour of 'Argo' for example, is intense and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Everything about this film in general soars. The script is great and never feels draggy at all. The acting is stellar, especially from Chastain, Clarke, and Strong. Bigelow's direction keeps the audience involved and giving us the feeling that there could be someone at any time willing to bomb an army base or a restaraunt as examples. If you haven't seen 'Zero Dark Thirty' yet, then what's keeping you? All of the controversy about the torture bound opening 30 minutes is all a bunch of bull. Nothing is really gruesome or bloody at all. The reason why it's supposedly hard to watch is because regular people wouldn't want to see others humiliated and sufficated through "waterboarding." If you can handle that, along with a dialogue heavy film with not a lot of action, then see this film as soon as possible, because it is without a doubt one of 2012's most empowering films.
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