Rating: 3 out of 5
I was somewhat ambivalent about Kathryn Bigelow's last film, Best Picture-winning The Hurt Locker. After thinking Jessica Chastain was one of the few bright spots in The Help, and I was thrilled to see her have more to do in a leading role. Zero Dark Thirty traces the real story of tracking down Osama bin Laden. It's a story we all know the ending too (although it did not yet have an ending when Bigelow began working on the film.) It's a challenge when you know the ending of a film to be invested--the journey becomes more important than the destination (I had similar issues with The Social Network.) While Chastain is unsurprisingly dynamite in the film, its pacing kept this film from being amazing. The climax assumes an ignorance in the audience, and the emphasis on the raid itself, which has been so well documented, felt slow and overly drawn out. It's tough to judge a film in this way, as I can imagine this film resonating more with future audiences less familiar with the details of its outcome. In that sense, it's a success: a poignant, electrifying glimpse into modern history. But to those familiar with the story's end, the first two-thirds of the film will likely be the most intense and suspenseful, as we ponder not the destination but the journey.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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