Zero Dark Thirty is about the ten-year hunt and eventual capture of terrorist Osama bin Laden. It is sharply directed by the Oscar-winning director of The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow. The story centers around a CIA agent named Maya, who is played by Jessica Chastain. Chastain is perfect in the role. She is initially green but steely, and matures to being a determined and insightful agent responsible for finding bin Laden's hideout.
The movie's screenplay is mostly intelligent, lean, and incisive. I personally thought the beginning of the movie was a little choppy and that writer Mark Boles needed to add a bit more exposition, but soon the movie settled into a smooth-flowing and well-edited film. There were many speaking parts in the film, and Bigelow cast all the roles well. Some of the more prominent supporting players include James Gandolfini, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Jason Clarke, and Joel Edgerton. However, the heart and soul of the film is the luminous and tenacious presence of Chastain.
Bigelow wisely presents some of the issues faced by the CIA agents such as job burnout or the administration of torture tactics in a straightforward manner without taking sides on controversial issues. She trusts her audience to be able to formulate their own views about whether or not the ultimate outcome of the proceedings is worth the problems incurred.
The last part of Zero Dark Thirty is mostly a re-creation of the successful mission of the Navy Seals who entered the bin Laden compound in Pakistan and killed the terrorist leader. It is exciting and thought-provoking even though the outcome is history. The film is timely in its release and to be commended for being so compelling when the public has become so weary with war in the Middle East. Grade: A
I watched this film with my friend Brian at the Pullman Plaza Marquee Cinema on January 13, 2013.