Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Movie Review: "Zero Dark Thirty"

Movie Review: "Zero Dark Thirty"

By Zack Mandell

Rating: R (for strong violence including brutal, disturbing images, and for language)

Length: 157 minutes

Release Date: Jan. 11, 2013

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Genre: Drama/history/thriller

The spy thriller "Zero Dark Thirty" revolves around the ten-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist group al-Qaeda, and his death in May 2011. The film's screenplay was penned by Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow, who were also its writers and co-producers.

The movie opens with a black screen and the frightened voices of victims of the World Trade Center bombing on 9/11. With time, viewers are introduced to Maya (Jessica Chastain) in the early years of the hunt. Maya is a CIA officer who has focused her career on building intelligence on Osama bin Laden (Ricky Sekhon). When Maya is transferred to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan, she teams up with another officer Dan (Jason Clarke), who is hunting for al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan. The duo tortures and tricks a suspect, Ammar (Reda Kateb), into revealing the identity of a suspected courier for Bin Laden, Abu Ahmed. The information eventually leads to the capture of one of the recipients of Bin Laden's messages.

Over time, Maya becomes more and more obsessed with capturing Bin Laden. Over the course of several years, she focuses all her energy and resources on finding Abu Ahmed. With the help of other CIA officers, she was finally able to track the terrorist down to a large compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Most people who watch "Zero Dark Thirty" are of the opinion that they will immediately feast their eyes on the raid of Osama bin Laden. It is true that director Bigelow accurately re-created this scene, but movie fans will have to wait for nearly three hours to come to that scene. Those who have watched "Zero Dark Thirty," along with other Bigelow's movies such as "The Hurt Locker" and "Point Break," will agree that the director knows how to create highly tensed and realistic action scenes.

However, it is the two hours before this point that many people find interesting. The ten-year manhunt is chronicled in detail, with numerous setbacks and murders along the way. Much credit for this is due to the keen eye of the screenwriter. The post-9/11 fear and thirst for revenge clearly becomes visible on the screen, and no officer quite embodies these feelings like Maya.

At first glance, Maya does not seem at all that tough. With her delicate features, most people would be forgiven for mistaking her as a soft CIA agent. Nothing can be further from the truth, however, because she is revealed to have focused all her career into finding Bin Laden and his henchmen. In fact, she is the one who grabs the wheels of this search for Bin Laden in Pakistan after Dan leaves for a post at CIA headquarters, back in the United States. Her stance towards torture changes from reluctant involvement at the beginning of the film to full participation in the middle.

Much controversy has surrounded the accuracy of the events represented in the movie as facts, especially the torture scenes. Many people in government have denied that the information used to capture and kill Bin Laden was acquired via torture, but torture is clearly depicted in "Zero Dark Thirty" as a useful tool. This is confusing given that the film was supposedly set up to portray the events leading up to the raid. It has been revealed that the filmmakers, chiefly Boal and Bigelow, widely consulted with CIA officers and Navy Seal teams who had been intimately involved in the raid.

As with many other movies that try to depict historical events, however, "Zero Dark Thirty" is not being explicitly marketed as a factual film. The filmmakers have explained that their production is a movie, not a documentary. Bigelow went a step further to explain that the movie does not have an agenda and is not set up to judge anybody.

To many people, it is still surprising that a complicated and dirty movie such as " Zero Dark Thirty " could include real and famous historical events. Torture, phone tapping, and even acts of bribes are all depicted in this film, which also shows the 2005 London bombings and protests in Pakistan against drone attacks by U.S. forces. The characters in this movie are engaging, but the cinematographer Greig Fraser also did his part to make the movie great. The use of a handheld camera makes viewers feel as if they have been inserted into the middle of the events in the film, but the lack of excessive shaking means the events are still clearly visible. "Zero Dark Thirty" is clearly a great movie to watch.

Rating: Not provided

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