Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Review: Chastain is Marvelous

“I’m the mother f***** who found this place.” -Maya

It’s dark, silent and after a little while we hear the panicked calls that were placed on the morning of 9/11 over a pitch-black screen. That’s the first minute of “Zero Dark Thirty” and every American’s heart breaks all over again.

The film begins and we are introduced to Maya (Jessica Chastain), a member of the CIA. Maya is skilled in research and is continuously going through hundreds of photos, documents and video interviews in the search for the world’s most dangerous man: Osama bin Laden.

Maya comes across a name that she believes to be bin Laden’s trusted courier, and from that day on she is completely relentless, persuading her superiors to move heaven and earth in order to track him down.

Performances are fantastic from this impressive cast, which includes Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton and James Gandolfini.

“Zero Dark Thirty” is truly Chastain’s film. You won’t see a greater character arc from an actor in 2012, like you will see of Chastain’s Maya. Chastain is fantastic playing the lead character, who has dedicated years of her life to the CIA in order to track down Osama bin Laden. It’s her journey and struggle that leads the film from beginning to end.

Oscar winning duo Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (“The Hurt Locker”) team up again, with their goal to make a movie true to the facts. Bigelow even stated that she “tried to bring this story to screen in a faithful way.” They both claim that the screenplay is based off of the facts taken straight from the CIA itself. Boal’s screenplay is excellent and certainly one of the best of the year, with the first half of the film carefully reserved, leading up to an explosive second half.

With that being said, the second act is far greater and more fluid than the first act of the film. Had the first act of the film been more intriguing, Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” would ultimately be a better film. Luckily, we have an actress like Chastain leading the show to make the film all the more enjoyable.

“Zero Dark Thirty” may not be one of my favorite films of 2012, but it’s certainly a film that makes it mark in cinema. This is a movie that will be talked about for years to come because of its excellent screenplay, direction and most of all, lead actress.

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