As universally recognised as it was many were oblivious to the pain-staking years of effort that went into the hunt for 'Osama bin Laden'. Unlike various similar situations this hunt was largely a silent one, done behind the closed doors of CIA offices instead of the brutal front line, suggesting that perhaps Kathryn Bigelow's newest Oscar contender 'Zero Dark Thirty' isn't the action spectacular that many expect it to be.
With Oscar nominated Jessica Chastain leading the hunt as 'Maya' a CIA officer, this film largely follows her inner struggles of desperation as her job and patriotic pride hang on thin strings, and for the majority her performances truly drives the film along with the remaining male cast running obediently behind.She leads the narrative as thin as it proves to ware, showing to be of smaller substance as initially perceived with many scenes showing almost identical subject matter to the previous. It's largely brilliant in captivating it's audience through political discussions and the tedium of the lengthy hunt, however its not helped by it's occasionally poor screenplay that acts as irregular comic relief as unknown sub-characters blurt convoluted phrase's with near to no following explanation. Almost inevitably a huge sense of 'deja-vu' is felt as the film procrastinates in it's progression through bogs of unnecessary dialogue .This may be an unintentional positive however as that's how the process played out in reality, this wasn't a months work as most CIA thrillers display it to be, this was a 10-year hunt, constant revisits to the 'drawing board' are to be expected.
Aiding in Maya's hunt is 'Dan' (Jason Clarke), a fellow CIA officer with perhaps more brutal tactics than the initially disgusted protagonist, displaying controversial scenes of reportedly 'stylised torture scenes'. This is in fact far from the case with Zero Dark Thirty only providing an all too realistic depiction of the torture involved with such a brutal hunt, little felt stylised with most feeling aptly uncomfortable. In fact looking on the whole the most poignant of positives that this film beholds is in it's terrifying authenticity, every scene of violence is seen through the lens of reality with little left to the imagination. With the majority of the film being dialogue between political and military figures, it comes as quite the expectation to see the resulting raid and assassination, and although it lasts for around 25 minutes it certainly proves to be one of the most accurate and exhilarating action scenes in recent memory. Transitioning between night-vision POV and 3rd person personal view, this scene is a perfect example of directorial excellence, with the audience feeling part of the troop as they squeeze through tight spaces and detonate intense controlled explosions.
In comparison to Zero Dark Thirty's Oscar nominated, declassified counterpart Argo, this picture proves to be significantly more indulging and interesting, containing a much broader and largely stronger narrative. What this lacks however is dramatic flair with interest barely maintained during the seemingly unnecessary sections of repeated dialogue. It does however significantly pick up towards the end, showing Bigelow's directorial finesse proving to be crucially accurate in it's depiction of silent and dramatic warfare.
7.5/10- As disturbingly dark as it is terrifyingly realistic