Based upon the real CIA analyst, Zero Dark Thirty stars Jessica Chastain as the analyst Maya. While there are several recognizable actors, perhaps more by face than by name in the movie, none are big name stars, which helps the movie seem more realistic. Some of the actors are Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Édgar Ramírez, James Gandolfini and Joel Edgerton.
Zero Dark Thirty is very different to the previous movie by Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker. While the previous movie was incredibly intense and taut, this movie is something else. Set over several years there are peaks and lulls in the action with the obvious climax at the end. With the majority of the movie focused on Maya, the movie tends to live or die on her and her personal journey. She begins as a perhaps naive person, shocked by the torture of suspected terrorists, but by the end of the movie seems to be an obsessed, almost crazy person.
As previously mentioned the begining of the movie features several torture scenes that are shocking and more than a little difficult to watch. There has actually been quite a backlash about this part of the movie with denials about the torture having actually happened.
Two months before the release of Zero Dark Thirty there was the National Geographic Channel’s movie ‘Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden’ which, while focusing more on the actual attack than the buildup, seemed to take some of the thunder from Zero Dark Thirty.
Zero Dark Thirty is not a bad movie, overlong at just over 2 and a half hours, but there is something missing to bring it up to the level of the Hurt Locker. Perhaps it is the focus on Maya which tends to drag out, rather than the action and the feet on the ground in Pakistan which would have made for a shorter movie but a more enjoyable one. While there has been much talk about Oscars but it is hard to see Zero Dark Thirty being viewed as ‘better’ than a movie such as Argo.