Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – Movie Review




Maya (Jessica Chastain) is the persistent CIA agent whose sole mission, since she was recruited out of high school, is to find Osama Bin Laden. We meet her during a torture scene that brings home the intensity of the search, but still comes off a bit sanitized. We’re with Maya through the accomplishment of identifying key players in Bin Laden’s post 9/11, daily routine and professional and personal tragedy.   Chastain’s performance—which it turns out is Golden Globe approved—is very good. I could easily see how Maya moved mountains to get things done via this poignant portrayal.

I’m confident that you know how the rest of that story goes, Maya defies odds and through conviction and tenacity, rolls the biggest dice she’ll ever be handed and gets Seal Team Six to ultimately shoot and kill Osama Bin Laden. I didn’t know that this was Maya’s story gong in; I thought this was an action flick and I was wrong about that.

The movie grabs you up front by throwing lots of information at you.  I paid careful attention at first to who the important players were and how they were connected; I was effectively hanging on Maya’s every word.  One would think that my eventual realization that Kathryn Bigelow (director) was giving us the story of the woman who found Bin Laden and what this woman poured into that mission, would make me like this movie more, but it didn’t.

Once I figured out what was going on, I thought it was exciting to see the story of a woman making history.  The excitement wore off at some point though and I got bored.  Bigelow built tension well, but released it too soon and too often.  Also, the movie was visually underwhelming.  Considering that film is a visual medium, I was disappointed I didn’t have something more interesting or complex to look at.

I’m unsure if I didn’t appreciate this movie because I had expectations of action.  I suspect I got swallowed up in that blockbuster mentality that says I should like and expect explosions and gore.  I believe it was more of a combination of boring visuals, and mostly forgettable performances.  Jessica Chastain may have pushed herself to give a consuming performance, but no one else did.  The last scene in this movie; however, is my favorite.  I liked it enough that I changed the rating of this film from a C to a C+ at the last minute.  It’s definitely interesting to watch, but this movie doesn’t have the impact that the events portrayed do and that’s a shame.  Give it a go, but know what you’re in for when you do.


Zero Dark Thirty (2012)C+

C+ = This is a pretty good time and you should give it a whirl.  You never know, you might enjoy it more than you think going in.  It has its pitfalls, but overall worth your time.