Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 18, 2013

‘Zero Dark Thirty' a respectful look at recent history

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — There’s no doubt Hollywood’s ability to turn history into some rather magnificent films, but finding a balance between fictional magic and reality often ends up compromising either actual record or box office gain. Today’s entry certainly had enough room for big bucks interpretation and it was admittedly intriguing how they would handle this particular chapter not even far removed from the timeline.

The result is much less just an action packed grab for ticket sales and with an almost documentary-like delivery has earned the attention that may yet gain it title of the year’s best. Personally I’m not quite in with the head-over-heals enamored and am leaning toward the musical side of things for best picture, but I will concede that its balanced approach deserves respect for greeting us with realities we might otherwise ignore. “Zero Dark Thirty” was in many ways less capitalizing on the famed kill than I would have otherwise expected and at least delivers in getting audiences talking.

Perhaps what may hurt Dark Thirty’s chance for best picture is that it starts out rather flat and spends a great deal of time stumbling around looking for a plot to hold onto. There’s nothing particularly wrong expecting your audience to figure things out at a slower pace, but it’s not the best thing to do if the audience is feeling dragged out and a bit tired at a late night showing.

Much of the film centers around a real life person who did a lot of important things in a decade long hunt for Osama Bin Laden (played by Ricky Sekhon, who might win for best fit into a body bag), portrayed by a fictional CIA officer named Maya (Jessica Chastain). On paper or said aloud, it may not sound too exciting for us to see how the intelligence gathering process went for a woman who does a fabulous job looking increasingly frustrated, but the depictions of how hard it is on these characters from losing close friends to attacks and the fact our government resorted to torture is a dose of reality that does find a way to move things along. However, if it weren’t for Chastain, the movie might not even have award legs to stand on, despite the acceptable supporting acting, which really is the only reason I was able to make it awake until the video game first person scene we all wanted in the first place.

Imagine a History Channel program with a few interactive sequences, but remove all of the commentary and throw in more than enough time for reflection. That’s pretty much what you’re presented with here, though it was a lot less patriotic inflated and was respectful enough not to include Obama in super tights pulling the trigger himself.

I will say it might be something perfect for a modern history class with plenty to be dissected and as long as you can take war related violence, it fits for wide range of age when it comes to content. That said, I might watch it again to catch things I missed while yawning to stay awake and recommend if the above is your preferred genre style. In the end, I’d say “Zero Dark Thirty” deserves a final verdict of three and a half out of five missions accomplished.