Zero Dark Thirty

Reviews Films


Zero Dark Thirty is a military term meaning half past midnight – the timing of the actual mission to locate and eliminate, Osama bin Laden. The term also refers to the secrecy that surrounded the decade long mission to track him down. Deemed the greatest manhunt in history, ZERO DARK THIRTY chronicles the declassified true story of the relentless pursuit by an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe.

 Kathryn Bigelow returns to screens with her new film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ following up her previously well-received effort from 2008 ‘The Hurt Locker’. Bigelow brings with her previous collaborator and writer Mark Boal for this portrayal of the operation to track down Osama bin Laden. Without spending time on the history to the events of September 11, the film establishes the context for its opening scenes, and limits itself to a very specific scope, without wandering from this focus for the following two and half hours.

The audience is immediately thrown into the deep end, there is no gradual build up or subtlety to what this film is about, following a dramatic opening scene the film pushes the tension, suspense and packs in volumes of detailed dialogue for the audience to digest in order to gain a detailed perspective on the events portrayed onscreen.

After drawing the audience into the setting the film effectively articulates the endurance required from its characters in pursuing such an intensive long term goal. There are long sections where plot-wise things don’t progress much which on one level leaves the film a little flat but on another level portrays the desperation and dedication of the manhunt.

Thankfully Bigelow doesn’t tend to glorify the actions of the characters here, the objective is known and the approach certainly embraces (for the most part) the notion of the ends justifying the means. It doesn’t shy away from depicting morally and ethically debatable actions which lends to the context and realistic feel of the film.

Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t rely heavily on any single character though it yields good performances from all the cast without anything hugely memorable. The multitude of characters effectively brings together the entire film with Jessica Chastain as a reliable conduit throughout. Chastain however deserves much credit for her performance in this film, subtle as it is she depicts a character seemingly out of place though as we get to know her realise that this is far from the truth.

It’s impressive for such a detailed and event focussed film that it still manages to include a complicated and intriguing character.

Far from being the focus of the film the action sequences that are included perfectly complement the tone.  They are executed with a grounded sense of realism and are only utilised where necessary, the film refrains from any self indulgence that could have spoiled the overall experience.

Obviously Zero Dark Thirty is not a light film, it raises issues for discussion and effectively explores the dedication and magnitude of the efforts to locate one man over a long period of time. It is a well constructed film that dwells just a little too long at times making for a lengthy running time of approximately 160 minutes.

I’m giving Zero Dark Thirty 8 out of 10 stars, it is released in cinemas on Thursday 31st January 2013.

Leith spent most of his formative years growing up on the coastal fringes of Western Australia without a cinema in sight. There he grew up on the wonders of home rentals before relocating to Perth and gaining access to a proper cinematic experience just in time for the Star Wars Special Edition re-releases. From there Leith's love of movies expanded to volunteering on a Star Wars fan film, reviewing films, writing about film news, and attending film and pop-culture related conventions on the other side of the world. Leith's favourite films are too many to mention but all start with the Star Wars saga, Back to the Future, the Dark Knight trilogy, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings and all things Kevin Smith. With an insatiable appetite for all things pop-culture related Leith also has an unhealthy addiction to the world of comics and can often be found buried under a pile of unread back issues madly trying to catch up on a number of titles coming out from mostly DC and Darkhorse.