yay a movie glorifying murica killing someone.... why else would it have been made? was it really necessary?
Reviewed on January 28th, 2013
Icon presents a film directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Screenplay by Mark Boal
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke and Mark Strong
Running Time: 157 minutes
Released: January 31st, 2013
In his book "What is Cinema?" film theorist André Bazin stated: "But realism in art can only be achieved in one way - through artifice. Every form of aesthetic must necessarily choose between what is worth preserving and what should be discarded, and what should not even be considered." Realism in cinema is therefore determined by an audio-visual language that differs from real life. Any compression or fragmentations of events are a result of the limitations of the time, space and technique of the screen. A filmmaker is responsible for selecting these techniques within the frame of the narrative.
Looking to cinematise the lead up and execution of Operation Neptune Spear, the hunt and assassination of Osama Bin Laden, Kathryn Bigelow and journalist turned screenwriter Mark Boal compress facts and timelines and omit significant figures from this decade-long search. However, the film moves through a decade long period with such ease that the realism is never compromised. It sidesteps Hollywood clichés and sentimentality as comfortably as few others have done before it. Boal's script is clear of tragic back stories, its character development is quietly stated and its moral compass, if there is one, lingers under the film's surface.
The film has been described as being in the tradition of "New Journalism": a method of journalism that adds subjectivity rather than an objective perspective to the facts. It is an appropriate means of describing the film because even as it condenses multiple real world terrorist attacks over the years, from 9/11 to a bombing in London, the impact is still extremely shattering to the audience and its characters. The attacks grow increasingly personal to the film's lead subject Maya (Jessica Chastain at her most intense and emotive), a CIA operative who spends over a decade looking for clues on the whereabouts of Bin Laden.
Contributing to the film's authenticity, Zero Dark Thirty makes fewer concessions than Bigelow's previous film The Hurt Locker (2009), which to avoid any political waves, was purposely coy on its subject of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This uncompromising nature is immediate from early scenes where torture is used to extract information from a prisoner. Both Democrats and Republicans alike have been publicly critical of the film, deeming the use of enhanced torture techniques to track Bin Laden is inaccurate and that the film praises torture an effective means of investigation.
This is a misjudgement and hypocritical given the extensive amount of research assistance by the CIA, the Department of Defense and the White House, who provided extensive interviews and documents about the operation. The interrogation scenes are, as they should be, ugly and difficult to watch. A man is strung up by his wrists, punched, stripped down and shoved into a box. His answers are varied, unclear and unhelpful. We see the stress that these moments place on the interrogator (played by Jason Clarke). It is difficult work and impractical compared to other advanced techniques, like aerial surveillance. An important subtextual development is how these techniques are gradually being phased out, which is true given the closure of the black list sites and the outlaw of enhanced torture techniques.
If the film does have a message my interpretation is that it is, in many ways, a film about how vacant revenge and obsession can be. Maya's entrance to the film is through one of these horrific interrogations, which she is not mentally prepared to engage. A deep focus shot of the room frames Maya in the background. The shot shows her isolated from the action, true to her inexperience, and her face conveys great discomfort in watching the interrogation unfold. She arrives in a dark suit, unideal for waterboarding prisoners, and when asked to participate she is clumsy in handling the situation.
Yet her inexperience also provides compelling movement in Boal's screenplay. As the terrorist attacks mount over the years and the deaths become more personal, Maya's viridity is dissolved and replaced with increasingly determined anger. This change is also complimented by through the costumes, as Maya's clothes become more combat-like, and her dialogue which grows more sadistic: "I'm going to smoke everyone involved in this op and then I'm going to kill Bin Laden". These fascist undertones, also echoed by Mark Strong as the head of Counter Terrorism at the CIA, are dispelled by how tactful much of the film is, particularly the meticulous and intense raid on the compound.
Like The Hurt Locker, the film isn't politically right or left. Once the breathless mission is over and the objective is 'won' the film obtains a brief but powerful feeling of melancholy. There are no 'hooahs' or flag waving. Maya's tears are not ones of joy or relief but unfulfillment. In a single close-up shot, her face reflects the hollow aftermath of conquering our enemies, and I think, the ambiguity around the next chapter of global terrorism. 'Zero Dark Thirty' itself is a military phrase, referring to the early dawn, once darkness has passed. What follows from this moment? It is an unexpected and brave question to end this long but supremely crafted docudrama.
Fantastic movie and a great review. It deserves to walk away with some Oscars and I hope it does. Bigelow not getting a nomination for Best Director is a crime.
Going into this film I was dubious after reading stories about how it had been bought and recut in an attempt to glorify the current President. As any american knows, the guy in the Whitehouse currently has this want to turn anything positive into "pro- him propaganda" and given how the media has spun this raid I fully expected to see an arrogant, aloof black college professor fly the helo, lead the charge and personally snap bin laden's neck. After all, that's how he and the sycophantic american state media has portrayed the raid.
Thankfully, that isn't the case. the film points out that yes, both EIT and good old fashioned intel work led to Bin Laden's capture. It even goes so far as to point out how the current Admins change in strategies dried up prospects for new intel sources. In the end it was a good film, not worth watching again and not a great film.
....but hey, i love "The Fifth Element", so what do I know.
Also, i guess i need to point out that the author of this review, like most people today have no idea what Fascism is and what it means. Put simply, Fascism is the economic ideology of the progressive movement. It has nothing to do with militarism, authoritarianism, or nationalism. It's an economic ideology.
I guess Orwell was right when he stated the word Fascism was meaningless as it has become a synonym for "something i disagree with".
This film is the biggest load of hollywood propaganda I've ever heard of, even Goebbels would be envious of this calibur of rubbish, and personally you'd have to strap me down clockwork orange style to get me to watch this shite.
The reason I say all this: The successful raid was only announced a few days after Obama released his fraudulent long form birth certificate and the public started talking about how he isn't an American. What a convenient diversion for the mainstream press and us sheep.
To this day numerous FOIA requests have been put out for evidence of Bin Laden's corpse. The government used corrupt judges to deny the requests, and now the Pentagon can't even seem to remember if they have any photos at all.
A commonly accepted theory is that the U.S captured and killed him after his final known to be legitimate tape in december 2001, where he claimed he had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
I wish people would research to verify what I've just typed, because it's sad if you dismiss what I'm saying as theory when the only theory you've been told to believe is the official one, this event has shaped our world for the worst and it's all based on lies.
Sorry to be so heavy guys ;)
@biggest_loser - Would love to hear your thoughts, and read some of your reviews for less controversial films, you're definitely a good writer.
@LE5LO Fraudulent birth certificate....lol you are a moron.
If you want to learn more about Barry Soetoro (a.k.a Barack Obama) watch a documentary called 'Dreams From My Real Father'. You will learn a great deal from that film and it may open your eyes. Peace.
@oflow - Q: "What exactly is the purpose of having a fake birth certificate?"
A: To quell the rumors and protect his position. Unfortunately, it it backfired and the majority of people interested in the issue are now aware of it, however powerless to bring him to justice.
Obtain a copy of Adobe Illustrator and you'll see I'm not lying. Even to an inexperienced layman this forgery is as plain as day. By the way I have a three year dual diploma in Advanced Graphic Design.
Q: "Why would the malevolent powers at be support putting a non-American citizen in the highest office in the land?"
Decoy: Usually a person, device or event meant as a distraction, to conceal what an individual or a group might be looking for.
*** If you want to believe the "debunkers" of 'Dreams of my real father' go for it. Being dismissive of evidence the film provides is your loss. I'd rather look at all the details on both sides before choosing one over another. Without evidence "Debunkers" should be equally scrutinized.
Fever dreams webpage can be highly scrutinized, just look at a few of the comments down the bottom.
@biggest_loser XD - I wish!
Actually I didnt take a side I just really dont believe in all these BS conspiracy theories especially one as ridiculous as the birther movements'. A quick scan of the interwebz pulled up dozens of listing debunking Dreams of My Real Father as fraud with photoshopped photos. I also saw that Alex Jones is associated with it which makes it doubly dubious.
So riddle me this: What exactly is the purpose of having a fake birth certificate?
Why would the malevolent powers at be support putting a non-American citizen in the highest office in the land?
The previous administration was far right conservative why would they allow something like this to happen? Wouldnt they have instead done something like fix the election so Obama would never be President? Thats ridiculous and still more plausible than a fake birth certificate.
I'm assuming your answer with have something to do with the Illuminati and I will be changing the channel...
@LE5LOYou dont have to live a lie just admit you dont like black people and drop the Tea Party 'Murica schtick.
The funny thing is how all you conspiracy nutjobs somehow think all the 'research' you do on the interwebz is real research. Since you know, everything on the internet is true.
If there were a secret conspiracy on as large a scale as this, how do all you people supposedly 'in the know' find out about it? They can spend billions to perpetuate crimes and hoaxes but cant keep some fat fingered basement dwelling gaming nerds from finding out?
And I was gonna agree with you about the film being propaganda til you started talking about fake birth certificates hidden on the grassy gnoll...
@oflow Racially I''m indifferent. I don't care what color your skin is as long as you can show me respect it will be mutual.
Since you've taken the official side of the story, We've been provided with no tangible evidence to this day to support your view that we were told the truth. Therefore that's a conspiracy theory that YOU believe in.
Aren't we all in the same boat here, with you believing one story that can't be proved and me believing another? Yet you call me a nut job. That's just a close minded.
Happy to educate you any time.
I am really looking forward to this and not because I am a little bit in love with Jessica Chastain!
@-INKling- I should tell you a funny story one day about this guy I saw at a cinema and Chastain.
@biggest_loser That sounds ominous!
@biggest_loser He should have just torrented a copy of a film called "jolene".
@-INKling- @biggest_loser I went to see Lawless which has Chastain in it and this guy started telling me before the movie how much he loved her and such. He was sitting like a row or two in front of me and during the movie I could see this light coming from where he was sitting. I looked closer and he was using his phone to film Chastain during her nude scene LOL.
Not too sure about the "New Journalism" label. There was nothing subjective about the way information was conveyed in the film, it felt very clinical and procedural (to the films credit).
@Prats1993 You don't think that Maya gave it subjectivity? The events are incredibly affecting for her.
I liked The Hurt Locker, great film. But Zero Dark Thirty isn't that good, it focus to much in the efforts of one individual, and makes the rest of the intelligent network look like morons. Feminist gonna love this film, the rest of the world, including women's, is going to think that this is a very average film. The film also makes the full Bin Laden capture sound like a joke, and the 10 minutes of action at the end of the film, feels like a comedy sketch.
5/10 and i think i been generous.
New Journalism meaning the report what they wish would happen rather than the facts of what did happen and that is why we have MSNBC and Fox News. Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, and Rush Limbaugh the reporters of "new journalism" who tell us how they want things to be now how thing really are.
I am not in a position to know the entire truth of what happened in this case but I fear the director who turned Hurt Locker from a movie about war heroes in to an anti-war rant. Although I can't imagine being in favour of war you should not pretend to making a move in honour of war heroes to sneak in another show about the Hollywood agenda.
I fear this is another fictional account and those who totally agree with her agenda will think it is great and there will be others who will wonder what really happened.
Awesome movie. It definitely deserves to be nominated for Best Picture. Jessica Chastain is a powerhouse in it and is the next up and coming great American actress.