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Terminal Lance “Zero Dark Thirty”


Well we all know what happened last time someone tried to bring up The Hurt Locker to Abe.

Shitty movies aside, I went and saw Zero Dark Thirty on Saturday. I suppose it was sort of a military obligation of mine, I kind of feel like I have to see all movies that are even remotely related to the military. (Though honestly I skipped Act of Valor in theaters, I watched it recently on Netflix and was happy I didn’t pay to see it)

If I could sum it up in one sentence:

It was good.

This came as a pleasant surprise to me, because we all know how I felt about Kathryn Bigelow’s directorial debut film last film, which went on to win Best fucking Picture and Best dick-sucking Director at the Academy Awards. I could’ve understood an award for Cinematography, because it was beautifully shot, but it was a wretched thing on all other accounts. But anyway, we don’t talk about that movie here.

Zero Dark Thirty, as I’m sure you all know, follows the story of a CIA operative leading the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The story spans over about 10 years, which kind of fly by in the film. Most of her hunt is directed at trying to find OBL’s key messenger, which leads to the climactic 30-40 minute ending raid by Navy SEAL Team 6.

The buildup to this ultimate endgame is actually really great, it builds the tension and keeps action to a minimum, keeping the intensity of the ending raid in high-contrast to the rest of the film. The raid itself isn’t even super action-packed, but more reserved and actually more realistic, which I thought was awesome. I’ve heard some people complain that the film was too boring or too slow, but I disagree. This is a CIA film about intelligence. Even so, Kathryn Bigelow was smart enough to almost entirely forego the perspective of her protagonist in order to show the one scene that everyone wanted to see: the ending raid on OBL’s compound. Overall, the film is very well-done and does a great job of capturing the intensity of the situation.

My complaints about the film are really about two things: I think the character development was kind of weak. Maya, the lead CIA chick, never really transforms or has any kind of real character arc. (This is actually the biggest complaint I had about The Hurt Locker as well) You don’t really care about her any more at the end of the film as you do at the beginning. As for the other characters, you won’t really give a shit about any of them either, except maybe the other CIA guy that tortures people, he’s pretty boss.

A small complaint I also had was that the passage of time in the film is really… odd? I dunno, it’s kind of hard to follow some times, the date will come up, but none of the characters look or act any differently and it all kind of seems like it’s happening in a small timeframe anyway, when in reality it’s going on over the course of like 10 years.

Anyway, with those minor complaints I do think Kathryn Bigelow has mostly redeemed herself from The Hurt Locker. Does it rate to already be up for Best Picture in this year’s Academy Awards though? Not at all.

Should you see it? Yes.

Infantry Marine turned Combat Artist turned animator turned bestselling author turned dad.

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