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Jessica Chastain and Kathryn Bigelow team up for one of the most suspeneful war movies in recent memory....
Sony / 157 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: March 19, 2013
What happened to Zero Dark Thirty? As fall turned to winter, Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker was sweeping the New York Film Critics Association awards, pummeling its way onto critic’s Top Ten Lists, and scorching house records in limited runs in NYC and Los Angeles. It was poised to be a serious Oscar contender.
But this was not to be. This nail-biting Osama bin Laden action/drama ended up making nearly $100 million in domestic box office grosses, but the movie was all but shut out of Academy consideration (with the exception of some love for Jessica Chastain’s leading performance), and it seemed to drift out of our public conscience faster than it should have. Was it the controversy about the realities of its gnarly torture sequences? If so, the conspiracy totally worked: Zero Dark Thirty was cut down in its prime.
This is a shame because on Blu-ray, Zero Dark Thirty is a neutron bomb of well-designed filmmaking craft. It’s not exactly the kind of movie you fall in love with – it’s a picture best appreciated than adored – but Bigelow’s steely authority as a storyteller permeates every solitary aspect of the film: even though we all know how the thing ends up (spoiler alert: bin Laden doesn’t make it), the fashion in which Bigelow unravels the Seal Team mission that finally nabs the terrorist is pitch-perfect filmmaking all the way.
While I guess it’s not entirely fair to laud Zero Dark Thirty as being a bona fide classic piece of cinema art, one definitely doesn’t want its achievements to go unappreciated. For whatever reason, the Hollywood machine turned away from Bigelow’s film, disallowing it to make good on its innate pedigree, so here’s hoping the movie finds more resolute sea legs as a high-def release. It’s by no means a perfect film, but Bigelow, Chastain, and company go out of their way to make a lived-in, harrowing snapshot of wartime nightmares with Zero Dark Thirty. It’s a picture that unfairly got a bad shake.