Friday, February 8, 2013
Film Review - Zero Dark Thirty (2013)
I went into Zero Dark Thirty with very mixed expectations, I had heard about the film prior to release but was unsure about whether it would do much for me, so could the film rise above the mixed feelings I had or was it to go lower?
Well, in all honesty it pretty much went lower than what I expected from it, the film for me was simply okay, there was nothing bad about it at all but overall I thought it wasn't all that great either, there are individual moments that really shine such as the opening scenes of torture that make for a very uncomfortable watch and left me thinking (Bane voice) "It is necessary evil" (Bane voice) when I was watching those moments and it helps to form the view that the film is not pro torture at all the more that I think about it, and the final raid on the compound that makes up the film's climax is well handled with low lighting, a clever use of night vision goggles and a nice sense of tension and editing.
The film also has some great performances as well, Chastain leads the pack but she also has some very nice backup support from Mark Strong, Jason Clarke and Kyle Chandler all of whom perform very well in their roles and in the case of Clarke becomes the standout performance of the film for me despite the very good work Chastain does in the lead role.
But however I also found the film to be very flawed for three key reasons:
First off is the length, the film runs 160 minutes and for me it felt way too long and could've easily lost a good 20 minutes to ramp up the tension of the hunt and give the film a sense of pace, the director of the film Kathryn Bigelow really lets herself down in this regard and I wish that she had reined herself in more in the same way that Ben Affleck did with Argo, always making sure the film hit its marks but also not feeling long in the tooth for its own good.
The second is the film's story and it feels very episodic at times with title headings explaining things in a way that makes you think that it would work better if the story had played out as a miniseries on television where that type of style would feel more natural to the film's events whereas here I found it to get in the way and stop the film somewhat whereas without that I might have felt like this had a more natural flow through the story.
And finally the third key flaw I have with this film is a flaw not that much different to the one I had with Hitchcock and that was knowing the ending in advance and simply waiting to get to that point and like that film when that moment comes its well handled and you get a sense of satisfaction that the wait to get there has paid off.
At the same time though, Bigelow's ex-husband James Cameron played with this conceit brilliantly when he made Titanic by opening the film in the modern day and starting with the wreck of the ship on the ocean floor, it may only sound like a small touch but to me it signalled "yes I know how it ends too and I'm going to embrace that to throw you off guard", part of me wishes Bigelow had done a similar thing though at the same time that type of opening would probably not have worked for this film.
So all in all, Zero Dark Thirty for me is not pro torture, not terrible but also not that great either though Bigelow fans and fans of this type of film will easily enjoy it, 2 out of 5.