A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011. (IMDB)
Writer: Mark Boal
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler
Run time/Rating: 135 Minutes/ PG-13
Popcorn Score: Large Popcorn
I may be over analyzing this certain feeling that I got during and after my screening of Zero Dark Thirty but I have convinced myself that the filmmakers intentionally made the movie slightly too long, a bit monotonous, and so individually focused on just one objective in order to mirror the methods, path and focus of its leading character.
The based on reality inside look into the tracking and killing of Osama Bin Laden focuses mainly on one woman named Maya(Jessica Chastain) who I understand is a hybrid of a few different real people, both men and women, that were involved in the tracking of the terrorist leader after 9/11. Her unrelenting focus of course, eventually was paid off when the Navy S.E.A.L. Team went into an extremely private home in Pakistan and killed Bin Laden.
The story moves fairly slow without the well-roundedness of most Hollywood blockbusters which offer releases from the intensity with a well-placed joke or bit character. While I was watching I couldn’t help but to think about Argo, another thrilling movie of 2013, but one that was such a complete movie with action, thrill, intensity but also many laugh out loud moments and tangents in the story that lighten the mood. Zero Dark Thirty had very, very little of this.
What it did have was very good performances. Jessica Chastain has had quite the breakout year and she brought a focus and drive in playing the part that the character she represents brought to her hunt. I also enjoyed seeing Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) and James Gandolfini in the parts they played as the CIA directors pinned with the task of dealing with the tenacious Maya.
When we finally arrive at the mission in which the title of the movie comes from, the raid on Bin Laden’s lair is shown with great detail. It is executed by the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6, who we first meet as a group of guys who are shown to be almost juvenile delinquents while relaxing on the base during off hours. Maya says to the S.E.A.L team leading up to the mission, “Quite frankly, I didn’t even want to use you guys, with your dip and Velcro and all your gear bullshit. I wanted to drop a bomb”. But once the stakes are high and the raid is on, this S.E.A.L. team is represented as gusty professionals that do not shy away from any task. I was surprised at how long and methodical the raid was. I always imagined the raid as a quick in and out job, I figured the team landed the helicopters rushed into the house and left within minutes. If the movie is accurate, it appears that the capture and kill took upwards of 25 minutes and was carefully and systematically planned and executed. (Although the movie didn’t show much of the preparation, it just appeared that they knew what they were in store for)
I hesitate to recommend rushing out to the theaters to see this movie, as I mentioned it is long and somewhat tiring ride. Unfortunately the only way that you will likely be able to see this before the Academy Awards is to rush out to the theater, so in that case I think that it is worth heading out and buying the ticket not only so you can compare it to the other best movie nominated movies but also so you can check out a determined Jessica Chastain in a Best Actress nominated performance.