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Zero Dark Thirty: Review

Posted by Kenneth Shinozuka on January 27, 2013 at 6:45 PM


Zero Dark Thirty

Starring: Jessica Chastain (Maya), Jason Clarke (Dan), Kyle Chandler (Joseph Bradley), Jennifer Ehle (Jessica), Joel Edgerton (Patrick), Mark Strong (George), Chris Pratt (Justin)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Screenwriter: Mark Boal

Runtime: 157 minutes

Rated: R for strong violence, including brutal, disturbing images, and language



out of 100

The killing of Osama bin Laden struck a crushing blow to the authority and power of a terrorist organization, al Qaeda, that has taken over three thousand innocent American lives. This landmark moment in American history was the outcome of ten years of tireless investigation, or so we are led to believe in "Zero Dark Thirty," an accurate but emotionally shallow docudrama directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The overly journalistic screenplay, written by Mark Boal, portrays the difficulties that impeded the "greatest manhunt in history," but fails to strike an emotional chord with the audience or convey the moral consequences of the methods employed to assassinate bin Laden. While Bigelow acknowledges that torture was exercised to obtain crucial information regarding the location of bin Laden, the film does not illuminate the unconstitutionality of such interrogational tactics ordered by Maya, the CIA agent who led the operation. The screenplay intends to depict Maya as an unsocial monomaniac characterized by a domineering attitude and obsessive persistence, but Jessica Chastain's colorless performance conceals these characteristics with a vacancy that preclues the audience from developing any emotional connection with her character. The only expressions of emotion that Chastain ever exhibits, which are manifested in her protagonist's bursts of fury against the bureaucratic hinderances to the operation, are too brief and intermittent to fofer full insight into the complexities of Maya . While suspense grips the final thrilling twenty minutes of the film, when the team of Navy SEALs assassinate bin Laden, tension only punctuates “Zero Dark Thirty” in taut passages of crisp dialogue that highlight the urgency of Maya’s mission, rather than continuing or progressively escalating throughout the entire picture. The dramatically stagnant and often unnecessary scenes of narrative digressions and extraneous dialogues disrupts the otherwise effective fluidity of the film. The zero emotional involvement in "Zero Dark Thirty" acts as a supplemental flaw to the film's excessive runtime by over thirty minutes. 50/100

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