The Hurt Locker was honestly a very pleasant surprise. I don’t remember much of it now, which doesn’t speak well about it, but I do remember it was a fun experience. Kept the viewer on edge, was less predictable that you would expect and the acting was decent. Most importantly you could not feel the “woman’s touch”. I wish I could say the same for Zero Dark Thirty.
All in all, the movie was too long, too slow and too empty. There was no tension, no edge, zero surprises and not very convincing acting. The movie started with a historical build-up which sadly after a few flashes proved to be unnecessary and not to add anything to the plot of the movie. Moreover, it seemed rather messy, as somewhere in the middle it got lost – as if the makers of the movie just forgot about it. The movie generally lacking backbone (literally and figuratively, mind you), could have used the cliché framing point of a timeline to structure the story better. Instead, the viewer just kept on losing track of what was happening when. But that’s not even the worst.
The leading character was very weak to my opinion, lacking any growth or significant personality change (with the exception of a few quite bad hairstyle choices). The manner in which others referred to Jessica Chastain’s character Maya did not correspond at all to the way she was acting or reacting to her environment. Most of the times she was sounding like a lost high school girl or was too hysterical to be taken seriously. She was not compelling, did not manage to involve me or make me feel any empathy for her. Rather I just wanted her to go away from the screen. Her reactions towards her co-stars were mildly put unconvincing and let’s face it – the last scene of her tearing up on an airplane was useless, un-touching and just fake. Was she happy? Sad? Relieved? Why? For who? No.
The secondary characters were unfortunately also underdeveloped, despite the excellent actors chosen for the roles. Examples – Mark Strong and Jeniffer Ehle, who usually bring beautiful nuances to their roles, were left in the dark with characters that popped in and out of the main storyline, without developing any real connection among each other or with Maya. Their characters would just get lost, unless the story conveniently needed them.
Sadly, and I know you will argue this is very un-womanlike of me to say, but the movie just screamed “made by a woman” in the worst possible way. It was moody, slow, with too many ups-and-downs, too many underdeveloped tension lines, lacked any edgy-ness and was altogether SOFT. And the saddest of all – the long-awaited ending was just so anti-climactic from a cinematography point of view.
Summing up, I was highly disappointed mostly because of the noise and positive reactions it brought about. I would say watch it and see what I mean, but rather – do not waste your time on it. I was compelled to write this opinion, mostly to counterweight as much as possible the many positive reviews the movie had, which I will only ascribe to a very emotionally biased audience and no one in their right mind. Or taste.
It proves rather difficult to find commentary on the movie that coincides with my negativism, but to avoid being called biased here is a POSITIVE review (though for me it falls in the category of “emotionally biased”) from a critic I generally agree with and really like. Enjoy!
Excapist, Movie Bob on Zero Dark Thirty