Monday, January 21, 2013

Upcoming Release Review: Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)

Kathryn Bigelow’s follow up to her 2009 multiple Academy Award winner, The Hurt Locker, has sparked plenty of debate following a swift journey from the headlines to the screen. The hunt by the CIA for Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist believed to be the orchestrator of the 9/11 attacks, was a decade-spanning investigation fraught with tragedy, with his death announced less than two years ago. Bigelow has once again teamed up with journalist and screenwriting collaborator Mark Boal, and much like The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty is not structured like most feature films. It is comprised of tightly chronicled episodes; significant individual chapters over the investigated period relayed sequentially and encapsulated by a narrative and fascinating character study.

Expecting less an action film than a tense and evocative procedural/bureaucratic struggle, I left the cinema shaken, and further contemplation has left me assured that it is a remarkable filmmaking achievement worthy of the lofty praise bestowed upon it.

Maya (Jessica Chastain), a CIA operative recruited out of High School, is assigned to the U.S embassy in Pakistan to lead a hunt for the al-Qaeda leader. She targets men believed to have been one-time acquaintances – couriers and moneymen – in the hopes that they can shed further insight on important members of his inner circle and ultimately his location. Over the course of the grueling investigation, which involves the torture of detainees for intelligence, until new administration threatens to prosecute any officers involved, and the search for the true identity of Maya’s primary lead, her life is threatened several times. Significant attacks during this period are recreated and despite losing agents and facing dead ends, Maya desperately tries to persuade her superiors to continue funding the investigation.

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