Kathryn Bigelow has returned to action in Zero Dark Thirty. It is her first work since sweeping the Academy Awards in 2009 with The Hurt Locker. Her thrilling tale of the manhunt for Osama bin Laden may possess a war-like feel like her last movie, but it goes so much deeper than that.
Jessica Chastain is Maya, a character based on the real-life CIA operative who spent ten years tracking down the most wanted man in the world. Not only does she give one of the Top 10 Movie Performances of 2012, but Chastain easily leaps for us to the front of the class to win Best Actress at this year's Oscars. Watching her character arc progress as her emotions and conflicting morals waver is spellbinding. That is largely due to the work the actress turns in, but clearly the story that screenwriter Mark Boal and director Bigelow has given her as well.
The movie is an immense gift, not only to Chastain who gives the performance of her already decorated career, but to American audiences specifically. Bigelow has, somehow, managed to take a manhunt movie and simultaneously given viewers something to debate (its prevalent use of torture), while presenting the horror of 9/11 through the most subtle, but powerful of means and given a country a sense of closure to a national nightmare that ends with good winning over evil.
That's the other thing that is so dazzling about the film, as teased in this Zero Dark Thirty clip. We know what happens. Not only is it history, it is recent history. Yet, there is not a single inch of film that does not compel us with an avalanche of information, action, psychological game-play and everything that encompasses why we adore the movies.
The Zero Dark Thirty TV spot shows us how Bigelow's supporting cast raises their game and it's clear that everyone involved in this production knows the importance of this picture. Kyle Chandler is Chastain's CIA boss and is equally as steely as he is intrigued by her theories. Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt kill it as two of the Navy SEALS charged with carrying out the iconic mission. And Jason Clarke should be earning some serious Oscar buzz for his portrayal of a colleague of Maya's who indoctrinates her into the world of fighting terror.
Our Zero Dark Thirty review states that, not only is it a riveting piece of cinematic joy, but it is a priceless capturing of a moment in time -- a period that, through the film, can compliment the history books in teaching our children about the senseless murder that happened that awful day in 2001 and how the United States never stopped searching for justice.