Zero Dark Thirty started life as a fictional story set against the real-life hunt for Osama bin Laden, but when U.S Navy Seals shot him dead on the 2nd of May 2011, forced Kathryn Bigelow to re-write. It is to the films credit that you would not know from watching it. The story of Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker, starts in 2003 and follows a CIA officer Maya (Jessica Chastain) and her devoted the mission of capturing the notorious leader of al-Qaeda.
Following the line of real and tragic events, the plot is only fictionalised to a degree, giving us plain straight account of what happened behind the closed doors of the CIA. Some could say the Bigelow direction is too clinical and cold and there has been some accusations thrown at Zero Dark Thirty since the awards buzz, that it glorifies torture. It is simply not true. The film looks at the events in the most honest way possible, letting the audiences make up their own mines about it.
What Bigelow gives us a tense filled, slow burning plot with one foot in the land of fiction. Armed to the teeth with a rock solid cast that includes Mark Strong, Jason Clarke, James Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler, Édgar Ramírez and (out of nowhere John Barrowman). This is Jessica Chastain’s show however and is fantastic in a role that starts of as shy and wet behind the ears to a determined force that will not take no as an answer. It rare that we get to see a lead character get a story arc that does not feel thrust upon you and is given time and space to grow and develop over its 157 minutes running time. It does feel too long however it is justifiable, taking its time on telling the narrative to mirror the 8 year span. The last 25 minutes make it worth the wait and makes you temporally forget how this thing will end.