Zero Dark Thirty Theatrical Poster
Title: Zero Dark Thirty
Genre(s): Drama, History, Thriller
Director(s): Kathryn Bigelow
Release Year: 2012
Few events in recent memory have caused as much public and media uproar as the day a raid was conducted on Osama Bin Laden’s secret compound, resulting in the death of the most prominent target in over a decade; if anything, it effectively showcased the sheer power a singular person could have over an entire population. While a film adaptation of the hunt was already underway, courtesy of Oscar-winning team Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, this new change in facts led to inevitable changes as well as an entirely new conclusion, effectively rewriting the film. As politically driven as its subject matter is however, it’s relieving then that Zero Dark Thirty rarely feels like anything other than a thoroughly tense thriller; as familiar as the events depicted in the film may feel, Bigelow and Boal have managed to plot out a gripping and thought-provoking drama around these dates, successfully dramatizing a decade long manhunt. It’s unfortunate then that politics had to interfere with the film’s release, leading to an unwarranted and baseless case of public shunning, nullifying its chances of taking home any top awards, if any. Anything but a piece of propaganda, Zero Dark Thirty stands tall as one of 2012’s most important film.
Chronicling the decade-long manhunt through a series of important dates, Zero Dark Thirty drops us into the muck of things; we hear the distressed voices of those within the World Trade Center while being plummeted into darkness, without a visual to accompany any of it. What follows is a series of uncomfortable interrogation sequences, punctuated by torturous methods and agonized screams. Here, we’re introduced to Maya (Jessica Chastain), a woman who initially appears to show reluctance and yet thrives on her persistence to find the man responsible. Even when faced with dead ends and loosely plotted leads, this persistence drives her to waking hours, attempting to find the slightest connections within this minefield of clues. Though numerous tragedies begin to pile up and hope to find their target, along with morale, begin to sharply dwindle, Maya never lets it impede her work, never committing to anything other than the mission. When she’s finally presented with the chance to take out her supposed target by her superiors nearly 10 years later, Maya, without flinching (and visibly sleep deprived), accepts her mission; it quite literally becomes the chance of a lifetime. While The Hurt Locker focused on a bomb defuser’s addiction to his job, being thrust into life-threatening situations and the conflicting thoughts that ran through his mind in the midst of it all, Zero Dark Thirty takes a more detached angle while utilizing a similar character thematic. Maya, and many of the other characters for that matter, aren’t exceptionally well-developed, or even very likable characters but then again, they never have to be; by skewing this protagonistic angle so familiar in Hollywood cinema, Boal’s script ends up placing the audience in a jury, letting them see the evidence themselves without the presence of a lawyer tricking or manipulating them.
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