MOVIE MADNESS #160: ZERO DARK THIRTY

They say when you go on a mission of vengeance, you should dig two graves. This is partially at the heart of director Kathyrn Bigelow’s critically-acclaimed film, “Zero Dark Thirty”.

The story begins as we are introduced the vulnerable, fish-out-of-water Maya (Jessica Chastain), a new CIA recruit whose first mission is deep in the heart of Pakistan. There she meets Dan (Jason Clarke), a rugged, veteran CIA interrogator who will use any means necessary to squeeze information out of his terrorist detainees. Maya’s first interrogation brings her face-to-face with the brutality and shame of torture.

Maya is in over her head and it isn’t until she stumbles upon a lead to a terrorist courier named Abu Ahmed that she really finds her purpose at her new post. She transforms from a timid new recruit into a determined pitbull. Little did she know that this lead would help America capture the most wanted man in the world, Osama Bin Laden.

When I imagined the mission that brought down Bin Laden, I kind of thought he was hauled out of some hole in Pakistan in his underwear and shot by a couple Navy Seals. I forgot all the years of tracking and I had no idea that it was a huge covert op into a compound as the movie would make us believe.

The operation as it goes down not only reminds us that we found Bin Laden but also that there were some collateral damage in the process. This really isn’t a waving the flag for America movie outsiders might think it is. If you want that watch that awful Mel Gibson flick, “We Were Soldiers”.

Instead Kathyrn Bigelow has reteamed with her “Hurt Locker” screenwriter Mark Boal to make a film worthy of the Academy Award winner. I really liked the opening to the film as tapes of the 9/11 911 calls are played over a black screen. We didn’t need to see the Twin Towers again to remember.

The movie is intense and has lots of talking, squabbles and false leads. I am not sure it will play for everyone because 85% of the film is strategy. While the other 15% is Call of Duty and reused news footage.

Jessica Chastain’s performance from innocent to strategist and tactician is really an incredible performance. I really enjoyed her evolution and it kind of signified America’s feelings on the whole Bin Laden event. Innocence before 9/11, bewilderment, frustration, vengeance and eventually resolution. Her character learns about vengeance the hard way.

One thing I did find kind of incredible about the film was just how deep Bigelow’s casting went. The majority of the supporting cast are made up of current and former TV actors. She did hit it big with former TV actor Jeremy Renner so why not. The best of them has to be the supporting performance from Jason Clarke. I still do claim he is a great character just waiting to happen ever since I saw him on Showtime’s “The Brotherhood”.

4.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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