Review: Zero Dark Thirty (2012)


Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow | 149 minutes | drama, history, thriller | Actors: Jessica Chastain, Jeremy Strong, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Mark Duplass, James Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton, Taylor Kinney, Jason Clarke, Reda Kateb, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Harold Perrineau, J.J. Kandel, Fares Fares, Henry Garrett, Navdeep Singh, Davind Menkin, Scott Adkins, Julian Lewis Jones, Christian Contreras, Lauren Shaw, Jessica Collins, Fredric Lehne, Tushaar Mehra, Daniel Lapaine, Stephen Dillane, John Schwab, John Barrowman, Jeff Mash , Phil Somerville, Siaosi Fonua, Mike Colter, Frank Grillo, Aron Eastwood

Well before anyone had even glimpsed the film, Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012) was the talk of the town. Semi-political America fell over the controversial torture scenes in the movie about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, which would reinforce the myth that torture is an effective, and thus a legal means of putting suspects under pressure. Bigelow fiercely defended herself and her film by emphasizing that the torture practices are part of the story she wanted to tell. But according to the director, the film does not suggest that bin Laden would not have been found without the use of torture techniques such as waterboarding. “That is a wrong interpretation. Everyone knows that torture was part of the manhunt, especially during the early years. However, that doesn’t mean they led directly to bin Laden’s hideout. ” The film, according to Bigelow, shows the complete arsenal of methods used in the ten years of the hunt for the leader of Al Qaeda. Intelligent detective work was ultimately the key to success, and that’s what we see in “Zero Dark Thirty,” Bigelow says, working towards the complex operation that ultimately brought justice.

Realistic, confrontational and rock-hard, that’s “Zero Dark Thirty”. The film enters you immediately in the opening scenes. The screen goes black and we hear telephone recordings from people who were in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Chills run down your spine as soon as you realize that these are people who couldn’t tell you later. The first images are no less intense, as we take a leap in time and end up – about two years later – in a grim secret torture chamber in Afghanistan, where we witness the horrific torture of a terrorism suspect. Like us, young CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain), watching from a distance, does not appear to have witnessed waterboarding, incarceration, and other forms of torture before. She is more the type of harsh interrogation, although she too hardens by the day and is quickly disconcerted because she has simply devoted herself to her task of finding clues that lead to Osama Bin Laden’s hiding place. During one of her interrogations she comes across the name Abu Achmed and she is sure that name can help her further. But then she first has to get her superiors to cooperate fully with her, and they are not so easily convinced. They simply want to see results quickly.

When Bigelow worked with screenwriter Mark Boal – with whom she also created the multi-award-winning “The Hurt Locker” (2009) – on the script for “Zero Dark Thirty,” the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden was still in full swing. After it was announced on May 2, 2011 that the terrorist leader had now been arrested, killed and identified, the second half of the film was drastically rewritten. This has resulted in an incredibly exciting last half hour, in which you experience how history is written, as it were. It is great that Bigelow and Boal are able to bring an event whose outcome is already known to everyone, so exciting. Together with the opening scenes, which are so intense that you hardly want to watch, the final chord is the culmination of this nearly three-hour film, which oscillates between various genres (documentary, drama, thriller and action). Anyone who has seen “The Hurt Locker” will recognize Bigelow’s raw, oppressive, documentary film style, which further underlines the realistic character of the film. Small downside of “Zero Dark Thirty” is that the head and tail of the film are so intense that the middle part is a bit pale. However, this is largely offset by lead actress Jessica Chastain, who still manages to give a not too elaborate character enough persuasion and character to keep us fascinated. She already has the Golden Globe in her pocket and she could just win the Oscar. If you are a bit interested in world politics, then “Zero Dark Thirty” is an absolute must.