Monday, 18 February 2013

[Movie Review] Zero Dark Thirty: The Thorny Fences of Humanity

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler
Director: Katheryn Bigelow
Genre: History, Drama, Crime
Reviewed at: PVR Cinemas, Udaipur.

She stands alone in a room full of men, donning a fragile skin with a steel heart inside. The President of CIA asks, “Who is this girl?” Maya (Jessica Chastain) retorts, “I’m the motherf***** who found Bin Laden, Sir.”

To be candid, Zero Dark Thirty is not a subtle movie and believe me, guilt is a virtue found in every thread of every individual present in the movie; be it the terrorists or the CIA agents or the Navy SEALs. It kicks off with a cacophony of sounds with the 9/11 attack and sets the mood dark and grim. What then trails are the 10 years of journey and the greatest man hunt that took place in the history.

It takes a nonconformist to depict the archives as a documentary and still churn such explosive results from the material. Katheryn Bigelow, for sure, is one of them! 2008, she gave us a powerhouse motion picture, ‘The Hurt Locker’ which was lauded critically and also bagged 5 Academy Awards including the ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’. Now, she has cooked the unflinchingly raw and ruthless thriller that chronicles the hunt for Al-Qaeda’s leading terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. And yet again, she has scored a home run.

Even at the start, we knew how Zero Dark Thirty is going to end. But, it is the undaunted and unflinching take of what rolls on the screen that takes your breath away. The feminism, the heroic attempts and the satire stands tall on its feet, as Maya (Jessica Chastain) gives up all to assassinate the terrorist mastermind. It is in those inflamed eyes, in the weariness of her shoulders and in her persona of dripping angst, that you can’t help but feel that the Oscars are in store for our lady lead.

If her acting was not enough to uproot your minds, we still have the impeccable direction of Bigelow to set things in motion and man, what track was she on! She takes a dig at humanity while showing the despicably gruesome torture sequences performed by the US officials while trying to nail Bin Laden. No plausible answers are given to what is justified or what is wrong and sometimes it makes us feel that in wars, the human inside us is replaced by a filthy, ugly monster. 

It often occurs that a movie which relies heavily on buried social comments becomes self-obsessed. Though being over indulgent at times, the slow building first hour reaches to an impeachable 20 minutes climax sequence that shows the superiority of art possessed by Bigelow. The night visions and the use of minimalist background score set the tone dead serious. Trust me; footsteps were never so prominent before!

Zero Dark Thirty might pale when being compared to Bigelow’s previous masterpiece, but it still is far more etched out and exhilarating than any other thriller you have laid your eyes upon in a long time. Yet again, in this incendiary dexterity of wars, Katheryn Bigelow has found her peace and ambition.

(first published in

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