Zero Dark Thirty This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 23, 2013
The opening scene of Zero Dark Thirty is absolutely brilliant. The screen flashes the words “September 11, 2001,” and then fades to black. All we hear are audio clips from that infamous day: firefighters, screams, panic. All of the pain, anger, and sadness of 9/11 comes back at you full force without any images. Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t live up to the first thirty seconds.
Zero Dark Thirty is director Kathryn Bigelow’s account of the U.S. government’s efforts to kill Osama bin Laden. The first act is pretty audacious, with its unflinching portrayal of the torturing of captured Al-Queda members. The last forty minutes is interesting as well, when we finally get to see American soldiers invade bin Laden’s secret compound. But the second act manages to bring the film to a screeching halt as it shows us, in extreme details, the paperwork and governmental procedures involved in taking bin Laden down. I understand that these scenes are all for the sake of accuracy, but that doesn’t make them any more compelling. To be honest, the film might have been more enjoyable if the second act was downright fabricated. As a wise man named Jimmy Stewart once said “If the legend is better than the truth, print the legend!”
I suppose Zero Dark Thirty’s real virtue is that despite having a very political story, it never takes sides, so to speak. The film’s makers never condone or condemn the killing of Osama bin Laden They simply tell us the facts. Today, that kind of unbiased reporting is unheard of in journalism, much less in the movies.
Zero Dark Thirty is currently up for a slew of Oscars none of which it really deserves, especially when compared to contenders, like Argo, Lincoln or Django Unchained. On its own merits, its a decent film but we can only hope that a better film will someday be made about the subject matter.
Rating *** out of *****.

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