- Kathryn Bigelow is pretty measured with her projects. Zero Dark Thirty is just her ninth film in 31 years (debut in 1981). This is her second Mark Boal collaboration (writer) after the 2009 Academy best picture winner (though it is a 2008 film) The Hurt Locker.
- This story covers Maya (Jessica Chastain) tracking down Osama Bin Laden (via his courier- her “lead”) for roughly a decade. It is a saga- 157 minutes- a film about the monomaniacal pursuit. Maya (a terrific Chastain) does not care if she ruffles a few feathers in that pursuit—reminiscent of All the President’s Men in the step by step, detail by detail, procedural. Like Pakula’s film, we don’t see behind the curtain into character here—what makes Maya tick, her motivations (this is an observation, not a critique).
- Bigelow uses doc footage, specific date and time titles to root it in realism—it is all about the details – like “tradecraft”, building schematics, the work put in
- For Chastain in 2012 it is smack dab in the middle of a ridiculous run to start her career. Take Shelter, The Tree of Life were the year before—not long after this in 2014 she’d have Interstellar, A Most Violent Year– all of this adds up to eight archiveable films between 2011-2015. She’d certainly be in better movies than Zero Dark Thirty (I just named four) but Bigelow’s film is where she gets center stage
- Having said that, she’s surrounded by a ridiculously good ensemble. Kyle Chandler is here (he and Chastain have a fabulous big blowup argument scene together), Mark Strong, Jason Clarke, Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton, and Chris Pratt shows his easy charm in his few minutes on screen
- The last 40 minutes it turns into a different film—it is a military operation- an action film and Bigelow’s capacities in the genre come to bear—she is precise- just like the clinical siege
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2012
Interesting. I remember thinking of this far more highly than a mere “recommend”, but I haven’t revisited it since 2012, so who knows?
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