Starring: Jessica Chastain (The Help), Jason Clarke (Lawless), Joel Edgerton (Warrior), Mark Strong (Kick-Ass)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Writer: Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
Runtime: 2 hours 37 minutes
Release Date: December 19 (US), January 25 (UK)
The director of the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker returns to the warzone to tackle the tale of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Is this a successful search, or is this case full of false leads?
Let it be clear: this isn’t a gun-ho action movie. This is a military thriller, made up mostly of people talking about things in offices. But by no means is this movie boring; quite the opposite in fact. Yes, the film can drag and could have lost a good 15-20 minutes in the editing room, but the film always remains tense and captivating at all the right moments. This movie is all about building the tension so when the s*** goes down, it feels weighty and important. When the action hits, the film never feels Hollywoodised. This is as close to being there as 99.9% percent of the world will get to being in this situation, and it is an experience worth taking.
A film that relies on words rather than explosions needs good performances and, while none of these characters have much depth or back-story to them, these actors play it to their limits. Chastain again proves she’s one of the best new actresses working today, giving a performance that further emphasises Maya’s obsession with catching Bin Laden. None of the other actors are given much screen time, but all perform well when they’re there. Bit parts are played by major stars like James Gandolfini and Mark Duplass, but their presence never takes you out of the movie.
If there’s one thing Bigelow knows, it’s intense realism. This is something Zero Dark Thirty delivers constantly. On the rare occasion action breaks out, it always feels raw and genuinely shocking. The film has an almost documentary feel to it, shown by the heavy use of handheld camera. The editing on display here is also near flawless, and the music is subdued and always arrives at the right moments.
Zero Dark Thirty is an emotional thrill ride; a film that shows you what it wants you to see and lets you decide your moral stance. This is neither pro nor anti military, this is neutral observance. Bigelow has further honed her phenomenal skills as a filmmaker to create one of the best thrillers in recent memory, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
FINAL VERDICT: 10/10