Sunday, January 13, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty movie, Osama bin Laden, Kathryn Bigelow, Jessica Chastain
This move review for "Zero Dark Thirty" was written by guest blogger Liz Parker...

I had heard a lot about Zero Dark Thirty, and after it got nominated for a few Oscars, including one for Best Picture and one for Best Actress for Jessica Chastain, I was even more curious about it. I also wondered about the significance of the title, which is never really explained in the movie, but if you think about it, it does make sense: at the end of the film, Osama bin Laden's house is raided, and a quick pan to a clock is shown, in military time - which is 00:30. Zero thirty, then, or Zero Dark Thirty, which refers to the "darkness and secrecy that cloaked the entire decade-long mission," as director Kathryn Bigelow has said.

The film opens powerfully with sounds only (no images). The date is September 11, 2001, and the Twin Towers have just been hit: we hear snatches of conversations and 911 calls. We then meet Maya (Chastain), a CIA employee who was recruited out of high school, and over the course of the next two and a half hours, we learn that she's made it her personal mission to bring down Osama bin Laden and anyone who is associated with or has helped him in any way. The movie follows her through 2011, when bin Laden is caught and killed, and her intel plays a major role in how the CIA found him and was able to invade his home in Pakistan.

I would like to know how much of the movie is true and how much was embellished for the silver screen. Jessica Chastain's character plays a major role in the film; however, although her character is real, I wonder if her actual role in the mission was as big as it was in Zero Dark Thirty. There are a few other characters that drift in and out, too, specifically her boss (Kyle Chandler) and a coworker in Pakistan with her (Jason Clarke), but she is the star of the show, for the most part. James Gandolfini and Mark Duplass also have small roles, as the CIA director and another of Chastain's coworkers, respectively.

Yes, see this film. Be aware that although there is torture and murder, it's the language that gives it its R-rating, at least in my opinion. I thought that the opening and closing scenes of the film were great but the middle was slow; the movie as a whole could have been cut by about a half hour. As someone who didn't know much beyond the basics about the search for bin Laden and its ending, I found Zero Dark Thirty to be extremely interesting, and its award show buzz should help it at the box office as well.

Zero Dark Thirty is in theaters now and is rated R with a runtime of 157 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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Liz Parker is a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature, and she loves going to the movies. Visit her at her movie blog Yes/No Films
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