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Film Review: Zero Dark Thirty (15)

  • by Gavin Miller
 

Gavin Miller reviews one of the latest film of 2013.

The year has launched with some fine films, but this is probably the pick of the bunch.

It reportedly didn’t bag the expected Oscar nominations due to its apparent glorification of torture which, if true, is an over-the-top reaction, but that shouldn’t take the gloss off another fine piece of work from director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker).

This ‘based on true events’ thriller is simply a classy piece of cinema that really needs to be seen on the big screen to do it – and fantastic acting performances – complete justice.

It chronicles the story of Maya (played sensationally by Jessica Chastain, who undoubtedly deserves the Best Actress Oscar after her nomination), a single-minded CIA operative’s decade-long quest to locate the whereabouts of the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden.

Her life is filled with moral dilemmas, illegal torture, assassination attempts, ropey intelligence and deaths of colleagues – particularly supported with noteworthy turns by the likes of Jason Clarke, Edgar Ramirez, Jennifer Ehle and Joel Edgerton – in her pursuit of Al Qaeda’s leader, who was finally found and killed by a US Navy SEALs team in Pakistan in May of 2011.

If the first two-thirds was full of methodical intrigue, it’s the final act – which sees the covert squad take out Bin Laden and his cronies – that is one of the most intense and truly gripping 30 minutes of cinema you’ll see in quite some time.

With the White House reluctantly giving the go-ahead on Maya’s obtained intel, squadron leader Patrick (the ever-reliable Edgerton) takes his highly-trained team through the compound in pulsating night vision to sensationally evoke one of the most heart-pounding nights in anti-terror history.

For that alone makes this film worth watching – even in preference to Bigelow’s Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. How she and Ben Affleck didn’t get Best Director nods for this and Argo is simply beyond me.

But when you also factor in memorable performances from some of Hollywood’s best up-and-coming stars (especially Chastain), forgot about the bad press surrounding the torture scenes, make up your own mind – and zero into the cinema as soon as possible.

Rating: 5/5 Gavin Miller

 

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