“Zero Dark Thirty” Is Tense, Captivating

Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty."
Image courtesy of Ace Showbiz.

HOLLYWOOD—There is something about watching the thriller “Zero Dark Thirty” that easily pulls the spectator into the picture.  I equate the picture similar to work that Kathryn Bigelow delivered with the movie “The Hurt Locker.”  It’s an edge of your seat thriller that sutures the viewer and never let’s go until the final moments.
For those of you not up to date on current events, the picture is a tale of the decade long capture of the nation’s #1 terrorist Osama Bin Laden.  Is the film tapping into an uncomfortable subject matter?  Without a doubt, but that’s key; it’s analyzing a situation that so many Americans desperately want to know about.  The movie follows a group of U.S. Navy Seals as they hunt for Bin Laden.
The star of the picture is Jessica Chastain as Maya.  This woman ignites the screen on fire, where her guard seems to be up at all times.  She is on a mission and never for a moment does she deter herself from that mission.  She has brief occurrences where she thinks about it, but stays on track.  Chastain brings a vulnerability and formidable strength to this character.  The question of whether “Maya” is indeed based on a true character will toy with the audiences mind.
That’s the exciting element of this movie.  Just how accurate is the picture to the real life events?  Writer Mark Boal has indeed done in depth research on the case to what extent the picture mirrors those real life events one will never know.  I am confident the government would under no circumstance disclose such confidential information in the case. The picture does have its share of difficult moments on the screen particularly a interrogation scene that will be discussed for days, weeks, months and years to come.  To describe the scene as tense and unnerving would be an understatement, but it in so many ways will grip the spectator in that dire moment and refuse to let go of you.
Bigelow’s expertise as a director is exhilarating.  Her ability to present a picture that is quite lengthy, clocking in at over 2 hours and 40 minutes is a difficult feat to maintain a moviegoer’s interest.  She depicts the action with such care, such ferocity at times, the tension being seen on the screen is almost filtered into the viewer.  Not only do you identify with the characters, you almost feel like a character in the picture yourself.  The suspense is equal to Bigelow’s work in “The Hurt Locker,” but on a grander scale; we as Americans know what is at stake and to have continual unexpected moments is quite a thrill.
“Zero Dark Thirty” may be one of the most exhilarating, powerfully gripping pictures that I have seen this year.  I’m a fan of a good mystery and this drama has all of that going for it, but its writer Boal and director Bigelow’s ability to capture a story on film about a man who has eluded U.S. officials for over a decade is amazing.  Its grainy at times, tense, moments of despair and horror all looped in a smartly paced picture that has not a single second of boredom in it. This is indeed one of the best pictures of the year hands down.

By LaDale Anderson