From the moment the lights dimmed and Zero Dark Thirty began playing on the cinema screen, my eyes were glued to it.
Its beginning is bold: a black screen with the sound of the screaming victims of the terror attacks of 9/11, and that boldness continued right through to the end. At no point did any of the usual distractions, like checking my cell phone, ever cross my mind.
Director Kathryn Bigelow's latest is incredibly long in length, but it was so well done it could have been longer and I wouldn't have noticed.
It follows a CIA operative's decade-long pursuit of Osama Bin Laden after 9/11. That CIA operative is Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, who has just won a Golden Globe for the role, and rightfully so. Chastain plays a determined young woman in a man's world realistically and convincingly.
In an interview with Time magazine Chastain revealed making the film about the real life female CIA agent who led the operation was her way of thanking the agent for her work, which until now has remained top secret. I'm sure the woman Maya is based on will be pleased by her depiction.
The torture scenes are hard to watch, but I expected the film to depict interrogation much more brutally than it did. It's enough to make you wince once in awhile but not enough to make you leave the cinema.
The use of torture in the film has sparked protest by Amnesty International for endorsing America's torture techniques, and the film's also being investigated by US lawmakers as to whether the CIA leaked classified information to Bigelow. But my advice is leave your political views at the door for this one, and enjoy it for what it is, essentially one big enthralling political thriller.
Four and a half stars.
Zero Dark Thirty
:: Director:Kathryn Bigelow
:: Starring: Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Duplass, Jason Clarke
:: Running Time: 157 mins
:: Rating: M - Violence & offensive language
:: Release Date: January 31, 2013
:: Trailer: Watch here