28 January 2013

Zero Dark Thirty review

Zero Dark Thirty is the new Kathryn Bigelow movie (Near Dark, K-19 Widowmaker, Hurt Locker) about the 10 year long hunt for Osama bin Laden conducted by the CIA which eventually leads up to him being tracked down and killed.

As a movie I have to say that it has more story and is overall better than Hurt Locker which I thought was interesting but ultimately didn't really say anything. Zero Dark Thirty follows a more traditional structure, we are introduced to a female CIA agent, Maya, who arrives at a "Black site" where the CIA is beating the crap out of prisoners in an attempt to extract information. The first half hour is really brutal and honest about the methods used by the intelligence officers, complete with waterboarding, humiliation and other and torture.

Obviously an intelligent person Maya is also portrayed as a cold calculating person, her only interest at the end of the day is finding and bagging bin Laden. Finding information gets a bit harder after the torture methods are removed from the CIA repertoire, but it is also at this point when the movie gets more interesting and becomes a real thriller with the CIA chase of bin Laden's courier whom Maya thinks is the only one who has contact with the terrorist leader. Finding the courier equals finding bin Laden.

Multiple interrogations, some really exciting surveillance operations, use of local informers and buying information from the Saudi's at ridiculous expense ultimately leads Maya to a Pakistani location where bin Laden is believed to hide - across the street from the Pakistani equivalent of West Point LOL!

The last half an hour or so is a superbly filmed Navy S.E.A.L. operation that rivals pretty much anything like it produced to date. And once again, the movie does not shy away from showing the brutal efficiency of the house search by the strike force. The realism of the entire movie is top notch, it's very rough and raw. I don't think the movie contains any attempt at social commentary, it doesn't include an analysis of the CIA, bin Laden or the war on terror. Fortunately, imo, it also doesn't include any constipated shoehorned scenes with Obama giving the "go ahead" or anything like that either. I have seen a few comments on people wishing the movie included such crap.

The movie is simply about the hunt for bin Laden through the eyes of a single CIA agent, it shows the methods used and the trouble the CIA had to go through to find and then convince themselves to strike at the world’s most hunted man.

If I have to make a theme based opinion on Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, I would say that Argo has a better story and is overall the better movie, while Zero Dark Thirty has a more interesting subject.


In the competition with other Oscar nominated "best picture" category movies, I think that Argo and Zero Dark Thirty will battle it out where it really counts. Other "heavy weight movies" in the category are; Lincoln which was such a boring and pointless  movie that my mind went numb, despite the brilliant performance of Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones. It was a run of the mill biopic, standard format but with horrible screenplay and execution. Possibly that Daniel Day Lewis will win "best actor" for it though.

Silver Linings Playbook I thought was great, I like movies about "crazy people’s problems" (for those who liked it I also recommend "Young Adult" with Charlize Theron), but I think it has more of a chance in the "best/supporting actor/actress" category than best movie. Robert De Niro was also great as the neurotic OCD dad.

I can't believe Django Unchained is on the Best Picture list haha, I saw it in the theater this weekend and while it was a really good movie and Tarantino's best since Pulp Fiction it's still not "Oscar material".

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, Anatoli.
    I just have to see this movie!


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