Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Kathryn Bigelow became the first female to win the Academy Award for Best Achievement In Directing for her 2008 war-drama The Hurt Locker. She once again joins screenwriter Mark Boal (who took home an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) for this in-depth look at the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
This talented filmmaking team combined with a great cast should make this as good as The Hurt Locker, but unfortunately it isn’t. The problem lies in the matter-of-fact approach to the screenplay. Key moments in this giant man hunt are played out as straight forwardly and realistically as possible. This style can work well, but only when it is combined with well-rounded characters that we can connect to.
The story unfolds in segments. Yes, the hunt for Bin Laden took place over many years, but there isn’t a consistent dramatic arc for us to follow, other than the fact that these investigators are inching closer and closer to their target.
Jessica Chastain continues her fine streak as Maya, a driven CIA operative who refuses to give up the search for this terrorist. Chastain may be good but her character is never really fleshed out. All we get are hints of her personal development throughout the investigation. By the time we finally see some true emotion come from her character it ends up being too, little too late.
These valid criticisms aside, Kathryn Bigelow and her team do deliver some great moments. Interestingly, the film opens with audio from the 9/11 attack, the sounds are horrific as our minds fill the black screen with the terrible events we remember seeing. The final act is a well made exercise in suspense and realism.
This is a film that tries so hard to be as “real” as possible without giving us character arcs to help with any sort of dramatic pull. Overall, Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t offer much more than re-enactments, albeit well-made ones.
THE REEL SCORE: 6/10