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'Zero Dark Thirty' is brutal but good

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By Becca Owsley

“Zero Dark Thirty”
Rated R for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language.
Release Date: Jan. 11 (for wide release)
Runtime: 157 min 
Rating: Brutal but a well crafted film

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Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” has been laced with controversy over the scenes of torture and concern from the CIA of how much information she received to make the film.

But Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) has directed a well- crafted film. From beginning to end, audiences are pulled in to the intrigue and drama surrounding the hunt for Osama bin Laden. I can’t attest that every part of the movie is factual, but it revives the drama surrounding the manhunt for the most wanted terrorist in the world.

The film begins with a black screen and frightened voices from 911 calls on Sept. 11, 2001, bringing audiences back to the terror of that day. From there, the hunt begins and the story follows one woman’s determination to follow her gut in finding bin Laden.

There is a lengthy segment in the beginning of the film in which a prisoner is tortured for information. There has been a lot of talk and protest about this portion of the movie. While the scenes are harsh, they are not surprising. Most of what is included has been featured in other, similar movies. In fact, I’ve seen worse in other films.

Jessica Chastain (“The Help”) is worthy of her Golden Globe win and Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She shows that work as a CIA operative is not as glamorous as James Bond movies might lead viewers to believe. Chastain plays her character with a soft and powerful determination.

The film also is nominated for Oscars in Best Achievement in Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Writing for a Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and Best Motion Picture.

Another standout in the movie impressed me because he subtly fell out of the way and I only saw his character. In fact, it took me a while to realize Mark Strong (“John Carter”) was in the film. A good actor does that: gets out of the way so viewers don’t notice him and instead notice the character.

Jason Clark (“Lawless”), Kyle Chandler (TV’s “Friday Night Lights”), Joel Edgerton (“The Odd Life of Timothy Green”) and James Gandolfini (TV’s “The Sopranos”) also appear in the film.

One disappointment is the performance of Jennifer Ehle (“The King’s Speech”). I’ve seen her in several films and she has a bad habit of overacting. She did so in this film as well. From her body language to facial expressions, it’s obvious she is acting and her character suffers for it.

The movie is somewhat violent, but fitting to the subject matter, and has strong language. It’s not for kiddos.

Bigelow is a female director not only taking on a predominantly male profession, she’s also doing it in a genre previously left for the guys: War movies. And she’s doing a good job, earning accolades from her peers.

The film is a bit brutal in places but not deserving of all the controversy surrounding it. As I said, I’ve seen worse.

“Zero Dark Thirty” is not a film everyone will enjoy because of its subject matter and It’s worthy of the award recognition it’s receiving.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com. For movie reviews visit her reporter page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Becca-Owsley/96924584861. 

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