Zero Dark Thirty

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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler, Chris Pratt

In the decade following 9/11 the world waited and watched to see where Osama Bin Laden would resurface. After the attack on the World Trade Center, the intelligence community began a massive manhunt for this renowned terrorist. Among those looking is Maya, a young and aggressive analyst who’s got her heart set on finding Bin Laden. The efforts of Maya and analysts like her lead to the death of Bin Laden at the hands of S.E.A.L. Team Six more than a decade after the 9/11 attacks.

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It’s tough to tell a true story when you don’t have access to every detail. It’s also hard to bring to life an event that has happened so recently without making it feel like a money grab. Kathryn Bigelow did a great job working through both of these possible issues. The film feels like a genuine attempt to tell a fascinating story about one of the most intense man hunts in modern history. Sure, she made a lot of money doing it, but it’s not cheaply done or gratuitous in any way. The film even avoids making it look like the United States did all the work on their own.

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From an acting standpoint, this was a really well made movie. Jessica Chastain (The Help) definitely deserved the Golden Globe she won for this performance. It’s definitely possible that she’ll soon have an Oscar to go along with it. She’s paired with a number of other great actors as well. Jason Clarke (Lawless) does an awesome job playing a tough and effective interrogator. Kyle Chandler (Super 8) does a great job playing a C.I.A. administrator watching over the war on terror. Also great in the film is Joel Edgerton (Warrior), playing a member of the S.E.A.L. team that is sent in after Bin Laden. There are a number of other talented actors in this movie that really make it a good watch.

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The other half of this movie’s success comes from the writing. It took a lot of skill to weave together a story that takes place over a decade without making it feel too glossed over, or too boring. There are some moments where the story slows a bit more than I would like, but overall it’s a wonderful screenplay. Like The Hurt Locker, I think Bigelow took on a controversial subject and made a movie that doesn’t feel like it is leaning one way or the other in the world of politics. There may be some people who disagree, but I like the fact that the movie didn’t carry an open agenda throughout an otherwise amazing story.

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Finally, the movie was a success since it didn’t focus on the end of the story. The world is already aware that S.E.A.L. Team Six killed Osama Bin Laden. The story chooses to focus on the events that led to his death instead. The movie ends without feeling like a tribute to how great America is, or how awesome it is that someone is dead. It’s just a really great story, told from a nice perspective.

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It’s hard to avoid spoilers when a movie is based on a true story that just happened. For that matter, it’s hard to do with anything this significant. Still, I hope you’ll see this movie since the when’s, where’s, whys, and hows are all really interesting and well done. I really loved this one and I give it 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 157 minutes

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