Film night: Zero Dark Thirty

NOTICE: Hi. What you’re reading is an old review from when I was using a different template. It was kind of ugly, so I switched. If I make a mention of spoilers going to be blacked out, they won’t be. Sorry. It’s just so long ago I wrote this and it’s a bother to go back and edit it extensively. Sorry if you get spoiled, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any major spoilers in anything without giving big warnings about it first. Cheers.

So Katheryn Bigelow made The Hurt Locker, which gave everyone a stiffy for Jeremy Renner (which they should have had earlier) and realistic-ish war films. Now I’ve seen her follow up flick about the CIA hunting Osama Bin Laden, and I can tell you that

Zero Dark Thirty is a good bad film.

Barely.

There’s not a whole lot to say about ZDT. It’s well shot, terribly edited and mostly well acted. See you next time.

Do ho ho ho.

A problem with ZDT is its focus on a single protagonist, especially such a dull one. No disrespect to Jessica Chastain, who I believe to be a good actress, but her part just feels like Oscar-bait. And bad it is. She’s the tough, no-nonsense chick that tends to burn some bridges getting what she wants, which is Bin Laden. She was recruited post-high school and all she’s done for the agency is to hunt OBL. Jason Clarke pulls out an amazing performance as Dan, a torturer and all-around swell dude. He plays his part with such candour and suaveness, that it’s impossible to dislike him. Yeah, he’s doing bad things, but he has reasons.

The biggest problem with the film however is that there’s no connection. Why is Maya (Chastain’s character) going after Bin Laden? Dan risks becoming totally hollow inside by torturing prisoners. WHY? To lead them to the next guy, but the only reason we know why it’s all connected and what they want to do is because we already know what the fucking film is about. Why are the Muslim duders going out there to blow themselves up? Can we have a little walk-through of the god damned conflict? No? Okay. Fuck you too.

That said, ZDT does a good job of stringing you along, which is mostly due to the actors, and because there is some interest to seeing how it all connects. The ending feels a bit implausible, but apparently it’s based on real events to there’s that.

Adding to the positives, the final thirty minutes does a good job of acting as the climax, even if what led to it felt a bit meh. It’s shot very nicely and shows the gritty side of deniable ops. A film more based around the attack itself would be more interesting, or trying to cut back and forth between the SEALs preparing the strike and Maya hunting bad people and a short history lesson on Islam and why the fuck the WTC was crashed into. It really is a rather good read if you do some digging.

Well, that was short and sweet, unlike the fucking film, which clocked in at over two dragged-out hours.

Actually, I changed my mind. There’s more negative than positives, so I’m writing this down as bad.

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