I don’t often review films –not really my medium, and my opinions are usually in line with the consensus anyway. For example, I saw Django Unchained, thought it was fun and surprisingly emotional for Tarantino, much like everyone else.
But I recently experienced Zero Dark Thirty, and honestly, the reviews I’ve read didn’t entirely capture my opinion of it. So here I am, throwing my slightly contrary hat into the ring. Disagreements welcome.
Torture & Jessica Chastain’s Acting – Are Both Good?
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to be a brutal flaying of the movie, I thought the first 50-60% were great. Despite the inevitability of the end, I enjoyed the search, the highs and lows, Jessica Chastain was as brilliant as everyone says in the lead role of Maya, and she’d totally deserve that Oscar.
I liked how we slowly warmed up to the character despite both her prickly nature and the few off-duty scenes. And as many have said before, there are some genuine ethical questions raised. We spend time with the CIA agents, seeing torture in action to gain crucial intel, and then Obama appears and starts declaring it shall never happen again. You can feel their dilemma, and feel guilty for sharing it at the same time – it’s intriguing work.
Oh, and the scenes on the ground in Pakistan, as Maya and her colleagues hunt down Bin Laden’s hideout, are stunning work considering they’re basically just some people driving around. It’s like a car chase, only realistic. As an investigation process movie, this part was brilliant.
Kneel Before The Almighty BUT
And now, the BUT. The last hour or so of Zero Dark Thirty didn’t really work for me. The Maya character, who I was starting to really like, gets marginalised and most of the action shifts from espionage drama to bureaucracy, which means loads of men yelling at each other.
Yes, one of them was Captain Jack from Torchwood, but even that only made me giggle for a few seconds. The first chunk of the movie was exciting enough for me to forgive already knowing the ending, the second… less so. I basically sat there waiting for them to take that damn house.
When the raid finally happened, it was an exciting sequence, but by then I was already a little bored. I’ve heard anecdotal points about the film being on the verge of shooting when Bin Laden was killed, leading to extreme rewrites, and that could be one reason why the ending seemed odd.
Anyway. Lovely storytelling, good acting, still glad I saw it, but shame I emerged disillusioned with the climax. Have you seen Zero Dark Thirty? Do you agree with me, or am I talking gibber?