The best movie of 2012? How about most overrated instead? Zero Dark Thirty is a good movie as long as you don't keep in the back of your mind how overly-praised it is.
I really wanted to love this one. I kept thinking to myself the entire time, "It's just getting started. It's going to pick up. This movie is going to be excellent, I just know it." What I was hoping never came true though. Deep down I wanted this movie to be what critics are claiming it to be. I wanted this to be the best film of the year, or at least one of them. Zero Dark Thirty is run at a very slow-pace and never really picks up until the last thirty minutes or so (go figure). The first two hours of the movie focuses on the ten-year manhunt for Osama bin Laden, and while the set-up was intriguing and some of the story was very interesting, the pace just made it feel like one dragged-out film. Granted, there are scenes throughout the movie that surely pick up the pace for at least a few, but then the film just drops right back down to being slow and dull. It's not like The Hurt Locker, which was much shorter and a shot of adrenaline the entire time.
Performance-wise, there really isn't anything Oscar-worthy here. The praise Jessica Chastain is receiving for playing the lead, Maya, is far too much. She's extremely talented and gives a really good performance here, but with all that I've been hearing I was expecting so much more from her. She plays the character the same the entire time; no emotion. You get splashes of humanity from the character from time to time but I got the impression that I was watching a robot lead the search...and I guess that's a good thing. With her job it's probably the best to not display much human emotion, so Chastain does it just fine. But this character and this performance that was written for Chastain just isn't worthy of an award and that's how I personally see it.
The other performances in the film are fine but nothing memorable. Chastain is really the only character in the movie, surrounded by a bunch of other actors to play through the scenes with her. Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong, and Jason Clarke are all great, but this film wasn't written for them, it was written for Chastain and I think that's made very clear here.
Now to move on to things that were positive from Zero Dark Thirty, now that the complaints and disappointments are out of the way. Kathryn Bigelow is perfect for this genre. You can tell that she has a passion for it. We saw it loud and clear in The Hurt Locker and we see that more here. Her shaky-style of directing is perfect and sets the mood for Zero Dark Thirty perfectly. The third act of the film, where we see the Navy Seals attempt the mission to find Osama bin Laden is some of the most impressive camera-work I've seen all year. You see the mission take place and feel as if that's how it went down one-hundred percent or as if it's a recorded video of the real life mission. It's amazing what she's done with the project. She'll no doubt receive a Best Director nomination and if she wins I'll be perfectly fine with it. But when it comes to this film winning Oscars, that's about all it deserves.
This is a good piece of writing on serious subject matter with a dabble of Hollywood to make things interesting. Zero Dark Thirty might not be one hundred percent accurate, but it tells the tale of one of the greatest manhunts in American history. Zero Dark Thirty may have come a bit too soon, but over the next few years we'll see plenty of movies surrounding this subject. Zero Dark Thirty just started the trend, and who better to do so than Bigelow? Mark Boal's screenplay might be a little too over-stretched and bloated, but I give him the credit for writing this film, as risky as it is. Plenty have already boycotted the film as propaganda (why?) and an inaccurate piece of trash. But Hollywood has every right to sp*ce up any project. It's about entertainment. I don't need a history lesson when I see a movie, so I'll respect and enjoy Zero Dark Thirty for what it was.
Overall, it might not be as wonderful as I was anticipating it to be but it's still a very well-made film. Kathryn Bigelow did a fine job putting this all together and the credit should be given with an Oscar. This film has gotten high-praise and I predict it'll win Best Picture next month at the Academy Awards, even though it doesn't nearly deserves the title. This is far from perfect cinema and I fear that critics are only writing this off as something better than it actually is because of the subject matter. That being said, Zero Dark Thirty a good movie as long as you don't keep thinking about how praised and overrated it is.
Thanks for the read.
-Written by Corey Wood