The Buzz: Zero Dark Thirty


CIA OPERATIVE Maya struggles in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

After some text explaining how the film is based off of actual firsthand accounts, the movie begins with a bombardment of 9/11 phone recordings that play over a black screen for quite some time. As the tension begins to rise and the emotional content becomes overwhelming, the movie cuts to a distressingly graphic depiction of a horrifically brutal interrogation/torture of a helpless, yet undeniably questionable, character conducted by the CIA in Pakistan. From the get go, you know that this is going to be an intense movie. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the critically acclaimed director of “The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty” proves it is worthy of the five Academy Award nominations it earned.

The film starts off a little hard to follow, but it really finds its rhythm about half way through the plot. The sets become richer, the characters begin to develop, and the movie just gets much more exciting.

But it’s not the fire fights that make the movie good; there are no epic gun fights to be found anywhere in the film. It’s not the explosions that make the movie good; though there are a couple, they’re scattered sparsely throughout the movie. It’s not the action at all; there’s little of that. To be honest, it’s Jessica Chastain’s amazing acting and her character’s, Maya, character development.

We see Maya completely transform as we follow her on her eight year quest to take down Osama Bin Laden. She begins as a painfully uncomfortable, reluctant green horn and then transitions to become an operative who seems just a tad too at ease with the torture and interrogations involved in her occupation. Following a brief moment of disillusionment and heartbreak, she eventually becomes a stunningly determined and belligerently aggressive woman we can’t help but root on.

That being said, this movie is not for everyone. Even for those who enjoy the film, it’ll be a difficult movie to re-watch. You won’t ever find me on a lazy Sunday afternoon casually deciding to watch the film “just to pass the time”—the movie is dark, heavy, and takes some mental concentration in order to follow the slightly confusing plot. And it’s not without its faults. While Maya is a remarkable character, the rest of the cast is too transient and play too small a role to be appreciated. It drags on and is painfully slow at times.

The chief problem is the sheer length of the movie. At two hours and 37 minutes, it’s hard to get through; worse, it feels even longer than it actually is. While this movie could, in no way, have been a short movie due to its extensive content, it was longer than it had to have been. And while stylistically it does mirror the mood of the actual man hunt for Osama Bin Laden, the length seems to detract from the good points of the movie.

Regardless of its shortcomings, this movie is more than a solid movie—it is an incredible one. It deals with a very sensitive, scarily current subject matter excellently, portraying the truth of what happened in a matter of fact way. “Zero Dark Thirty” is sure to do very well at the upcoming Academy Awards.