You don’t celebrate a remarkable film like “Zero Dark Thirty”, you absorb, admire and bloody applaud it.
You absorb it’s engaging, occasionally nail-biting register of the hound for Osama Bin Laden, you admire it’s braveness to inject villainy into both sides of the warring coin, and you bloody applaud it’s masterful configuration – its likely we’ll never see a more engrossing, affecting epic on the memorable manhunt again (though many will no doubt try).
But no, you don’t celebrate it. It’s not a Christmas cracker meant to blow out every which side with excitement, trumpeting a party in progress. It’s a reminder that thousands of people lost their lives for nothing. And if we could, we’d gladly trade the film to have them back with us.
Director Kathryn ‘The Hurt Locker’ Bigelow’s mostly-factual account of Osama Bin Laden’s going-out-of-business sale is an epic war-political-mystery thriller that’s plays even more powerful because of its constant reminder that its plot comes from a newspaper headline.
Over near three hours, the Bigelow-Mark Boal- written pic introduces us to the varying folks that were charged with the mission of taking down Bin Laden and his team – namely young CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain), who grows gradually more determined and fidgety as her 12 years on the case tick on – from agents to the politicians in Washington, insider contacts and ‘talking’ prisoners.
By the time the film gets to the big moment when it’s time to actually get Bin Laden, we feel like we’ve a good sense of what the mission meant to those who encouraged and green lit it, and more so, feel sweat beads beginning to drop as those choppers descend over a dark Pakistan mountain scape ready to make their kill.
The mass of performances are uninhibited, realistic award-worthy turns – take your pick : Chastain, Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Mark Strong, James Gandolfini , Jennifer Ehle – the big moments are as brilliantly choreographed as they are deeply disturbing, and admirably, the script isn’t out to make friends.
Libretto refuses to play the patriotic fist-thumper so many films of its type do (Oliver Stone’s September 11 effort ”World Trade Centre” comes to mind) and would’ve. Sure, the Americans are who we’re barracking for, but that doesn’t mean our people and policies aren’t giving a good cinematic Chinese burn here. In fact, there’s only a couple of agents and government fat cats that are idolized by the lens, the rest are captured with every wrongdoing, flaw and stuff-up possible. Again, Bigelow’s keeping it real.
“Zero Dark Thirty” is a brilliant film that, understandably, you wish never had to happen.