Cinematic Releases: Zero Dark Thirty

Everyone has been talking about the controversial Zero Dark Thirty for months on end. The film has been touted as the best of the year time and time again with Chastain the main focal point for Academy Award consideration. While I fully understand the interest in the topic, I really can't comprehend all the positive feedback that's been streaming in regarding this film. Yes, it's a good movie but not the Oscar bait we've been lead to believe.

Much like her last film, The Hurt Locker, Bigelow attacks the subject matter with hyper realism. Zero Dark Thirty is a methodical, slow paced drama that never strays in it's path. Yet, I was expecting much more. The movie plays like an extended procedural drama with characters of little to no depth.  At times we get bits of emotion from Chastain and her male counterpart, but it's not enough to carry a film of this weight. The real hunt for Bin Laden was a long gestating epic that defined careers and destroyed others. Zero Dark Thirty is a movie with almost no back story and characters we really know nothing about. That's exactly where the problem lies. 

In the past I've liked everything Chastain has done. Her performance in The Tree of Life was outstanding. And her role alongside Michael Shannon in Take Shelter was equally amazing. But with Zero Dark Thirty I was never intrigued for a second by Chastain's performance. I wouldn't say she was the wrong choice for the role or that it was her fault. I just think her delivery suffers due to a script lacking any real dynamics or character development. 

Again, I wouldn't say that it's bad movie. It's just not as strong of a release as The Hurt Locker. The film truly moves at a snail's pace with almost no action until the final moments. As a movie about the hunt for Bin Laden, I really expected a bit more action and more detail about the other maneuvers that ultimately led to his capture and death. However, I realize Zero Dark Thirty is based in reality and isn't meant to be Call of Duty transposed to screen. So, I'll give it a passing grade.

I'm rating this movie a 4 out of 5 based on Bigelow's penchant for reality. This could have very easily drifted off in to some over sensationalized action film that rendered the actual events in to some modern, patriotic, pro-violence festival of sorts. Instead, we were given a slow moving procedural. 

4 out of 5 - CG