Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Okay so I really like Parks and Recreation and Chris Pratt, who plays Andy Dwyer, is one of the best characters on the show. So when I saw that Chris Pratt was featured prominently in the trailer I got excited. Also I really didn't mind the last Kathryn Bigelow movie I saw in The Hurt Locker. The action and writing was good in that, so I was kinda excited to see this movie. To say the least it was, less action filled, but pleasant surprise. 

Zero Dark Thirty's story starts two years after the September 11th attacks and follows the story of CIA officer Maya (Jessica Chastain). She has spent her brief career only following al-queda intelligence on their leader Osama bin Laden, when she is transferred to work with follow CIA member Dan (Jason Clarke) at the US Embassy Pakistan. Maya would often accompany Dan when he went and interrogated prisoners in his less than humane way. They trick one of their prisoners into telling them that a man named "Abu Ahmed" is working as a courier for bin Laden somewhere and also works with a man named Abu Faraj al-Libbi who is apprehended and interrogated, but tells nothing. By 2008, Maya is no longer the newbie officer she once was and in 2009 she lost her friend in the Camp Chapman attack. It's at that time Abu Ahmed is all but confirmed dead. But Maya may have incidentally stumbled upon evidence of who this mystery courier is and what may be the secret hideout the infamous Osama bin Laden is hiding. This may finally be the break Maya is looking for and this Navy Seal team, led by Justin and Jared (Chris Pratt and Taylor Kennedy , may be in the biggest raid of their entire lives.

Well for me this was more like a documentary, of sorts, turned into a feature film. So I kinda enjoyed the plot and story. I didn't know any of the details behind Osama's capture and death (or if some of this was fudged to make the movie more juicy, so to speak). I'm sort of the typical American when it comes to politics and these types of things. Chanting "USA", singing 'God Bless the USA' and kissing babies while waving a little American flag. Well, maybe not the last one. So the details behind everything was cool to see. The acting was pretty solid too, especially by Jessica Chastain and in the beginning part of the movie with Jason Clarke as Dan. Once the Navy Seal team came in as well there was a nice air of humor added into to this serious dominated movie. The music and score was a nice compliment and never detracted either. Out of place sounds and music drive me nuts. The cinematography in and around India where they filmed (to look like Pakistan) were very pleasing to look at as well. Always a plus for me.

There were some flaws in this though. The action, the trailer fully had me believing this movie was full of, was limited to the tail end of the movie. Sure there were covert chases, torture scenes and bombings, but I'm not counting them cause they were usually one time thing more than a scene itself. I will say though that the raid scene to end the movie was was one the coolest action sequences I've seen in awhile. Also this movie is one that felt long for me, and that's never a plus. I know we need to get every detail possible so the viewer isn't confused as to whats happening (and I wasn't), but it really did feel that more often than not that a scene was long or dragging. This is well over two hours, but for me felt longer than that. One more thing I did notice, while we were supposed to follow the story of Maya, Jessica Chastain's really the only person that really got a huge amount of range and character development. I mean Dan, Jason Clarke, did get a fair amount in the early going, but it dropped off considerably and I really felt like everyone that came on screen was almost "one off" and I never noticed them again.

All in all this is almost a story of two halves of a film for me. The beginning setting up was cool the see all the processes and time it took to gather the intel. With the end being actually getting the ball rolling and the awesome looking raid itself. The main, well character haha, in Maya was cool and the rest of the decent cast's acting followed suit. With the story, writing, filming and music all being good. I don't think it deserves as many Oscar nods as it's gotten. But that's just me. The few grips I had came with length and misinterpreting the trailer and hoping for more action, which can easily be looked over. This is a very well made drama-action hybrid, though it has flaws, with a nice story to tell.  Zero Dark Thirty feeds off our patriotism and makes us want to see the full story behind Osama bin Laden's death.


  1. Good review Matthew. An award-worthy central performance from Jessica Chastain, an insightful script with incredibly sharp dialogue, an intense atmosphere throughout and one of the best climaxes to a film I've seen in a long time.

  2. Yeah no denying the end of the film is amazing, but for me as a whole it just ends up being another one of those good movies I'll probably never go back to.