Review: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Walking into a theater in anticipation of the film Zero Dark Thirty, one really isn’t sure what to expect. Yes, the film is supposed to be a re-enactment of the events leading up to and including Osama Bin Laden’s assassination, but how did Kathryn Bigelow truly intend to capture the essence and intensity of the crazy occurrences that transpired? After the lights dim and the anxious crunching of popcorn ensues, viewers are exposed to a captivating yet gruesome thriller about the behind-the-scenes work of the CIA.

Already established as a critically acclaimed director from her previous war story “The Hurt Locker,” Bigelow is at it again, following the story of Jessica Chastain’s lead role “Maya,” a CIA operative dedicated to bringing Al-Qaeda down. Although it features strong performances by Chastain and supporting operative Jason Clarke, “Zero Dark Thirty”has a sluggish pace, only gaining real momentum within the last thirty minutes of the production. Chastain played her role exquisitely, beginning as the “eyes-wide-open” operative who grows to become a confident, mature leader of men. With a run time of more than two and a half hours, viewers are taken on a wild ride of federal pursuit, watching the obligatory (although somewhat invasive) techniques of investigation that the CIA uses to gain information. Juxtaposed by the re-enactment of several vicious terrorist attacks, the pursuit of Bin Laden gives this film a sense of startling reality.

There is definitely a cause for controversy with the authenticity of the film’s plot, largely directed towards the savage methods of torture used by the CIA to get information from prisoners. The unbiased microscope placed on the interactions between the United States and the Middle East definitely brings an undeniable excellence to the picture, and one can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment when the film closes with Chastain’s fulfillment of duty.