[MOVIE REVIEW] Zero Dark Thirty
Even for someone who commutes on a bus that passes through the front gates of the CIA like myself, you can't help but think about how cool it would be to have an insider's view on the workings of CIA Agents. Thanks to TV shows like Showtime's Homeland and 24 along with films like Body of Lies, Sum of All Fears, Fair Game, Good Shepherd, Interpreter, and The Kingdom, CIA analysts have become the new face of cool and they're especially idolized by low-level desk jockeys and Washington bureaucrats. After all, they go through the tedium, thoroughness, and headache-inducing bureaucratic hurdles except at the end of the day they save the country from terrorists like action heroes.
So when "Zero Dark Thirty" rolled into theaters this weekend with significant buzz and a Best Picture Oscar nomination, I was fresh off my recent "Homeland" itunes marathon, and eager to see some CIA action on the big screen. The unexpected result is that all the hype worked against me: If I hadn't seen Homeland and all those movies, I might have found the inner workings of the CIA fascinating and been shocked by the horrendousness of the interrogations in a thought-provoking emotionally-poignant way. In the case of the former, the novelty factor was gone and with the latter, I was already desensitized. In short, fans of this subgenre won't find anything particularly revolutionary here, but "Zero Dark Thirty" is an important story well-told.
Fast-rising star Jessica Chastain plays CIA desk jockey Maya who's professional career began in the immediate aftermath of 911. To the frustration of her superiors, she eschews smaller assignments to single-handedly focus on paper trail that could lead to a personal courier for Bin Laden. Maya's resolve is driven through the guilt of mistakes made (that could have potentially saved lives) and the loss of friends in the Agency who have been killed by terrorist attacks. In a twisted way, Maya is a sort of Forest Gump for the War on Terror in that she happens to be in the proximity of every major terrorist attack over the past decade (London, Indonesia, etc.). Although we've all seen these tragedies in the news, the film makes them visceral and real on a poignant level.
Jennifer Ehle (relatively new to American audiences) and Jason Clark play Maya's colleagues, Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) plays her station chief, and Chris Pratt (Parks and Rec) plays one of the Navy Seals in the Bin Laden raid. The movie is all about Chastain, however, and she deserves credit for all the credit for carrying the movie so well. The hard-working actress has been in 10 movies in the past two years. She must be more exhausted than her character. This is director Kathryn Bighelow's follow-up to her Oscar-winning film "Hurt Locker" and she is again showing the ability to make a smart political film with mass appeal.
Short URL: http://bit.ly/VdKnD9