Sunday, January 06, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Today I saw Zero Dark Thirty, starring Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke.

Most Americans remember the evening that President Obama announced we had killed Osama bin Laden, but few of us know how it happened.

This film aims to explain it.

Beginning with the attack on 9/11, we see a step-by-step progression of how 12-year CIA veteran "Maya" (Chastain) and a small team of her peers, learned where the terrorist was hiding and executed a ridiculously risky mission to find and kill him.

There's not a lot to spoil here, and if you're a fan of the NBC Nightly News, many of the clips will look familiar. In fact, the film—running time 2 hours, 37 min.—almost felt as if it was shot in real time because the pacing (until the big scene) was very slow.

Perhaps my expectations were too high because Director Kathryn Bigelow's last film, The Hurt Locker, had me riveted from start to finish, but this was far too long.

A few of the torture sequences could have been cut, as could the countless times we see Maya not getting the respect she deserves despite the fact we know she'll have the last word.

And it was fun to see cameos from folks like James Gandolfini and Mark Duplass, but if the movie was going to be that long, couldn't we have seen more of them?

The performances were all first rate, and Chastain will certainly be nominated for several awards; the writing is also strong with the dialog never veering away from realistic, even if many of the classified conversations had to be reinvented.

It just could have used a bit more editing.

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