Zero Dark Thirty is more of a requirement in film than it is in art, giving some sense of closure to millions affected, and treats the subject with respect.
The film follows the true events of one CIA woman’s dogged determination to finally find and kill terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden.
Directed by Katheryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) the film is in good hands; it maintains a dedicated honesty from start to finish, it never blemished the story, its development or the characters and gives you a real sense that these events took place. It is almost more of a documentary than a drama in that respect.
Its pace is slow, and with a runtime of 210 minutes it may seem a little long in the middle, but it is good to be enacted in such a way. Everyone is waiting for the film’s climax, but the slow burning build up only heightens your dedication to seeing it through to the end.
It is a necessary film. I mean that it feels like it takes you very personally on the characters’ journeys to finding the terrorist, and this will give a tremendous amount of closure for the millions of people affected. The final night-time sequence is fascinating and starkly shot, giving the audience a full and involving representation of how the events truly unfolded.
The way that our protagonist Maya (Jessica Chastain) struggles to find the evidence and the clues she needs to give rise to military action, threatening to see it all collapse and give in at any moment, nicely catches the audience up in the cause.
I have my issues with films based on real (and recent) events. Film’s like The Impossible, United 93, World Trade Centre do not interest me as they appear too deliberate and almost showboating with horrific events that are too fresh in our minds. Zero Dark Thirty however feels distanced enough to be acceptable; yes, it opens with real audio from the 9/11 attack, and includes a sequence representing (and archive News footage of) the London bus bombing, but the purpose of the film is not showing these events, it is to show the end of these events.
Some might argue that it is boring, too long and that the characters are relatively neutral but… I find it hard to agree. The film is an efficient and arrow straight visualisation of real events, to say it is inherently “bad” would be a mistake!
It is implemented with cold precision, and it doesn’t attempt to charm or alleviate you as it progresses. The film’s sole purpose is to give closure, and by the time the film finishes I think many people will feel satisfied and a little startled because of it.