Zero Dark Thirty: The Biggest Manhunt in History
Jason ClarkeJessica Chastain...
In 1 Cinema
Kathryn Bigelow sure likes her
men in uniform. The 61 year-old revisits
the subject of war in collaboration, once again, with screenwriter Mark
Boal. The twosome previously worked on 2008’s
Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, which earned Bigelow the honour of
becoming the first female to win the Academy Award for Best Director.
“Based on first-hand
accounts of actual events”, Zero
Dark Thirty is claimed to be one of the most important films of the year. Controversial? Yes Important? Maybe. The Best? Far
Zero Dark Thirty focuses on Maya (Chastain); a rookie CIA agent
who is sent to the Middle East two years after the events of 9/11. There, she witnesses her associate fellow CIA officer, Dan
(Clarke), go to great lengths to extract
information about the whereabouts of a Bin Laden courier – a figure they believe will
lead them to the to the world’s most wanted man himself.
The film proceeds to portray the gruelling
details of the torture methods used as part of the cross-examination of prisoners;
sleep deprivation, dog collars, gritty tie-ropes and more. Maya, new to all this, complies and remains
in the background in hushed silence.
What follows is a drawn-out account of investigations, interviews and trips
around various tribal territories in Afghanistan before the final face-off in
Pakistan on May 2nd 2011.
Naturally, Zero Dark Thirty has
been receiving criticism since long before it release; something that has
subsequently made it one of the most anticipated films of the past 12 months. But
for all the buzz, this is a piece of cinema that has been unable to live up to the
significance of its subject. Messy and confusing at times, one of the film’s
biggest downfalls is the heart, or lack thereof. Essentially, this story is of Maya’s
ten-year mission to locate and eliminate one of the most notorious and sought
after terrorists in history. Yet, Zero Dark Thirty is soulless and feels
a little too technical and clinical.
On the upside, Bigelow shines in
the last thirty minutes when the film reaches its dramatic climax. Her naturalistic,
deadpan approach works well and gives the scene a sense of formality and
As the leading lady, Chastain is
surprisingly flat in her role as a real-life CIA Agent; her pokerfaced presence
makes the character blend into the background and it infuses no real persona to
the protagonist of the plot.
The subject may be daring, so
soon after the events, but Zero Dark Thirty feels a little too Hollywood.