Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

Zero Dark Thirty - Why All Of The Hype? - Review

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zerodarkthirtyposter.jpgBased on the somewhat, kind of, maybe true story (we'll let the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation determine what was real, what was made up and what was leaked in violation of the law), Jessica Chastain stars as Maya - a CIA agent in the Middle East trying to find Osama bin Laden.   She embraces the agency's top priority to find the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, and might have come across a lead to find the evasive terrorist.

Maya has received information that bin Laden has a trusted courier, Abu Ahmed, who could lead the United States to where bin Laden is hiding out.   

Does Abu Ahmed exist?

Is the information reliable?

Is it enough to launch an attack on the supposed hiding place?

Zero Dark Thirty is an overhyped movie.  It's a good movie.  To some, it is so good it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.  But, it's an overhyped film that is two movies in one, and one of those movies is the really good one, if you stick around long enough to see it. 

The first part of Zero Dark Thirty is a police procedural like Law & Order.  We see Maya and her CIA comrades, especially the commanding Jason Clarke as a brutal investigator, trying to track down clues and information that will lead to bin Laden.  It's sometimes not all that clear what is going on and who is who.   

Chastain is great, and might be the reason the movie even keeps you in your seat.  She does a fantastic job showing us Maya's transformation from fresh-faced patriotic agent to brutal vet willing to do whatever it takes to get the information needed to get the job done.  She's marvelous at showing us Maya's lowest points and makes the character into a courageous crusader at just the moment Zero Dark Thirty needs it.
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Then, the part of the movie you bought a ticket to see, is that fantastic, intense raid by the Navy S.E.A.L.S.  Director Kathryn Bigelow knows how to make an action movie (that's why she is the only woman to ever win Best Director at the Oscars), and that's what Zero Dark Thirty becomes at its best.  At this point of the movie, she leaves behind the controversial stuff about waterboarding and torture and the political games people play to get their way within the CIA, and just shows you heroes going into combat in a mission that is dangerous with an outcome that is uncertain.

You really are on edge, even though we all know how it ends.

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3 Waffles (Out of 4)

Zero Dark Thirty is rated R for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language