Films | Movie Reviews | ZERO DARK THIRTY – Film Review


Posted by Vivek on January 5, 2013 | No Comments


Director: Kathryn Bigelow, Screenplay: Mark Boal
Principal Cast: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler

Great sagas of our times be it the Titanic, the Space Shuttle launch, Man on the Moon, probably did not happen in fiery dramatic speeches and emotions. They were done by regular folks doing regular things, in regular ways until the extraordinary occurred. The greatest manhunt in recent times, had almost become a failed effort, an effort where people had lost hope, when it resurfaced to achieve the most extraordinary result. For the people who lived through the 2001 Twin Tower collapse, to the ultimate culmination of the death of Bin Laden, when it did occur, in 2011, was almost an afterthought.

Kathryn Bigelow’s narrative is almost as we experienced the decade that was the Bin Laden hunt. The essence is captured in the most non dramatic, yet cinematically powerful film of recent times. It is not about good guys and bad guys, it is not about black and white. It is simply about humans living their lives with beliefs and those beliefs resulting in actions, positive and negative. This, ZERO DARK THIRTY, catches in all its essence.

Yes, the film has its moments of showing the water boarding and other alleged CIA techniques, but even that is shown, not in revengeful way, but one that is as challenging to the doer as the captive. This, capturing of one of the most dramatic stories of our times, as an objective assessment, even from the point of view of the protagonist, is the most amazingly powerful feature of this film.

The non dramatic, when told as a series of tasks, tends to capture the audience a lot more than the highs and lows of a film centric manhunt. In the end, the audience is not left with a “we got him,” but more of a “what an overwhelming journey by some very ordinary and average people.” We root for the characters, as opposed to the ideology. When this happens in a war centric film, then that means the maker and the director have really given us, the war in its true essence. Not about the victory parade, not about the “got them,” but more about the whole experience of that decade, which came and went, searching for one human.

What ZERO DARK THIRTY is telling the audience is that, minutes before shooting down the most wanted human on the earth, “SUPERMEN” and “SUPERWOMEN” were on their desk and on their command stations, probably gossiping and playing darts and snacking. Yet, despite all this, they going on to achieve SUPERMAN and SUPERWOMAN results and feeling as exhausted and as overwhelmed as the people who heard about the outcome of this manhunt, is the real cinematic victory of ZERO DARK THIRTY. Not once, does it do anything over the top dramatic, as a movie and yet, not once, not for a moment, does it ever lose the audience attention. If the medium of entertainment and reality ever collide, then ZERO DARK THIRTY is as close as it gets.

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