Zero Dark Thirty Review (MovieMantz)
December 20, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. --
Zeroing In For The Kill
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
“I’m gonna kill bin Laden.”
About halfway through “Zero Dark Thirty” – the captivating procedural thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, the Oscar-winning team behind 2009’s Best Picture-winner “The Hurt Locker” – those five words are spoken with fierce conviction by Maya, the obsessed intelligence-gathering CIA analyst played by Jessica Chastain.
It goes without saying that Maya delivered on her promise to take down the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks after spending the better part of a decade zeroing in on her target. But how she did so makes for a fascinating, extremely riveting and incredibly powerful cinematic experience that culminates with the now-famous raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, carried out by U.S. Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011.
As soon as the mission was accomplished, the code words were called in: “For God and country – Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” The 35-minute raid scene that leads to that moment of truth is vividly executed by Bigelow, but the previous 2 hours are just as compelling, resulting in an engrossing account of how one determined woman defied the odds to find the most wanted terrorist in the world.
Perhaps the character that Maya most closely resembles is Clarice Starling, the young FBI cadet played by Jodie Foster in 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs.” But while Maya is initially distressed by the extreme measures taken to interrogate a captured Al Qaeda operative at a CIA black house, she quickly develops the thick skin that she will need to navigate her way through her hostile environment, loads of red tape, testosterone and political bureaucracy.
And after a breakthrough year that included co-starring roles in “The Tree of Life,” “Take Shelter,” “The Debt” and an Oscar-nominated turn in “The Help,” Jessica Chastain gives a powerfully restrained performance as Maya, a woman so devoted to her high-stakes job that her personal life is practically non-existent. The hunt for bin Laden is seen through her eyes, while the rest of the film’s intelligent and intricate structure puts it in the same league as 1976’s “All the President’s Men,” 2005’s “Munich” and 2006’s “United 93.”
But “Zero Dark Thirty” plays out more like a thriller, and the road to bin Laden is littered like a minefield. If Maya isn’t struggling to hold her own with her colleagues (played by Jason Clarke and Jennifer Ehle) or butting heads with her superiors (played by Kyle Chandler and Mark Strong), she grows more frustrated by other deadly attacks around the world, like the London bombings of 2005, the Karachi bombing of the Marriott Hotel in 2008 and a suicide bombing at a remote CIA base in Afghanistan in 2009.
And just when the increased frequency of those attacks seem to push bin Laden further out of reach, Maya makes the breakthrough that she needs to put the odds in her favor. That leads to the executive decision to attack bin Laden’s Pakistan compound, which is carried out with visceral intensity while revealing just how close the whole operation came to turning into a disaster along the lines of “Black Hawk Down.”
Of course, we know how it turned out, but that’s just one of the reasons why “Zero Dark Thirty” is so unforgettable. Bigelow and Boal have crafted yet another masterwork that matches the hard-hitting impact of “The Hurt Locker,” and it’s a triumph that will no doubt leave you thinking “for God and country,” indeed.
Verdict: SEE IT!
-- Scott Mantz
Copyright 2013 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Year-End Review 2013: The Best Movies
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz and Fandango correspondent Alicia Malone join Access’ Shaun Robinson to breakdown the best movies of 2013. Where did Sandra Bullock’s “Gravity” land on the list? Plus, which films do they see as the biggest Oscar contenders?
MovieMantz Reviews: Frozen, Black Nativity, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & Homefront
Scott “Movie” Mantz visits Access Hollywood Live to review the newest movies hitting theaters this holiday weekend. Did Disney’s “Frozen” warm Scott’s heart or leave him in the cold? Plus, how is Idris Elba’s performance as Nelson Mandela in “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”? And, are “Black Nativity” & “Homefront” worthy of a “See It” rating?
Holiday Film Preview: Which Movies Are Must Watch?
With a ton of holiday films still to come, Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz and Fandango’s Dave Karger breakdown the must watch movies for the holiday season, including “Saving Mr. Banks,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Hustle.”
MovieMantz Reviews: Mandela – Long Walk To Freedom, Black Nativity & Homefront
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz calls Idris Elba’s new film, “Mandel: Long Walk to Freedom,” a “really powerful” movie. Also, why is “Black Nativity” so “hard to resist”? Plus, what does he have to say about Jason Statham’s new movie, “Homefront”?
MovieMantz Reviews: Disney’s Frozen & Nebraska
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz is calling Disney’s “Frozen” the perfect movie to see over the Thanksgiving weekend. Plus, why is Scott calling screen legend Bruce Dern’s role in “Nebraska” the performance of his career?
Idris Elba Discusses Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & Oscar Buzz
Idris Elba talks with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about the “relief” he felt for the positive reception he received for the Johannesburg premiere of his new movie, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” Also, he tells Scott about the “massive compliment” he received from Nelson Mandela’s wife, Winnie. Plus, how Idris feel about the Oscar buzz surrounding his film?
Naomie Harris’ Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom NYC Premiere
Naomie Harris chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about how great it is to premiere her new film, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” in New York City. Also, she tells Scott how great it felt to have Winnie Mandela’s blessing. Plus, Naomie is extremely flattered by the Oscar buzz surrounding her and Idris’ performances.
MovieMantz Reviews: Thor: The Dark World & The Armstrong Lie
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz says he liked “Thor: The Dark World” more than its predecessor – but, did he like it enough to recommend seeing it? Plus, what does Scott think about “The Armstrong Lie,” a movie which details how Lance Armstrong duped the world.
MovieMantz Reviews: Thor: The Dark World & The Armstrong Lie
Scott “Movie” Mantz visits Access Hollywood Live to review this weekend’s newest releases. Is “Thor: The Dark World” another hit for the successful Marvel franchise or is it a dud? Plus, is the new documentary, “The Armstrong Lie,” which revisits the Lance Armstrong performance enhancing drug scandal, worth checking out?
Will Forte Takes On His First Serious Role In Nebraska
Will Forte tells Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz why it was so “nerve racking” taking on his first serious role in “Nebraska.” Plus, he chats about bonding with director Alexander Payne over margaritas. So, how did he connect with co-star Bruce Dern?
Jaimie Alexander Dishes On Her Revealing Dress - Thor: The Dark World Hollywood Premiere
Jaimie Alexander chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about getting ready for the Hollywood premiere of “Thor: The Dark World.” How difficult was it to put on her revealing dress? What’s the secret to keeping it on? Plus, why does she think that “Thor” is the sexiest superhero of them all?
Stan Lee Talks The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Cameo: How Will This One Be Different?
Stan Lee chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz at the Hollywood premiere of “Thor: The Dark World” about the big bucks the film has already made overseas, before the movie has opened in the US. Plus, what can he reveal about his cameo in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”?
Kat Dennings Talks Bringing The Humor To Thor: The Dark World
Kat Dennings chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz at the Hollywood premiere of “Thor: The Dark World” about helping to bring the humor to the movie. Plus, why does she say the movie’s action and romance will be enjoyed by both men and women?
Zachary Levi Talks Joining The Cast Of Thor: The Dark World
Zachary Levi chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz at the Hollywood premiere of “Thor: The Dark World.” How excited was he to join the cast? Plus, why does he think this movie is so popular with the Marvel fans?
Clark Gregg Talks Bringing The Marvel Universe Together On Agents Of S.H.E.I.L.D.
Clark Gregg chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz at the Hollywood premiere of “Thor: The Dark World” about his journey through the Marvel universe. How exciting has it been to be a part of this world? Plus, will “Thor” make an appearance on ABC’s “Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.”?
Tom Hiddleston Reveals His Latest Impression: Anthony Hopkins!
Anthony Hopkins Dishes On Thor: The Dark World & His Breaking Bad Obsession
Anthony Hopkins brings his family to the premiere of this new movie, “Thor: The Dark World,” at the El Capitan Theatre where he praises the entire cast to Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz. Also, he talks about the phone call he got from Bryan Cranston after he received his “Breaking Bad” fan letter.
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor: The Dark World Hollywood Premiere
Chris Hemsworth talks with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about the box office success of this new film, “Thor: The Dark World.” Also, how did he film his kiss scenes with co-star Natalie Portman, who is a foot shorter than him? Plus, Chris tells Scott how Mike Tyson inspired his fighting style in the Marvel movie.
MovieMantz Reviews: Dallas Buyers Club, Ender’s Game & Free Birds
Access movie critic Scott “Movie” Mantz says Matthew McConaughey gives the performance of his career as Ron Woodroof in “Dallas Buyers Club” — but what did he think of Jared Leto’s work? Plus, what did he think of Harrison Ford in “Ender’s Game”? And, what does Scott think about Owen Wilson’s new animated movie, “Free Birds”?
Last Vegas, Dallas Buyers Club, About Time, Free Birds & Ender’s Game – MovieMantz Reviews
Scott “Movie” Mantz reviews five movies at a frenetic pace on Access Hollywood Live. MovieMantz will let you know where to spend your box office bucks this weekend in no time flat!
The Counselor & Blue Is The Warmest Color – MovieMantz Reviews
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz weighs in on this weekend’s new releases. Why wasn’t he a fan of “The Counselor,” despite the all-star cast? Plus, Scott reviews the foreign film “Blue is the Warmest Color.”
Bad Grandpa & The Counselor – MovieMantz Reviews
Access Hollywood’s Scott “Movie” Mantz gets ornery as his alter-ego “Grandpa Mantz” to review “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” & the new Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt thriller “The Counselor.” Are these new films worth watching? “Grandpa Mantz” will give his verdict if he doesn’t get kicked off the set first!
MovieMantz Reviews: 12 Years A Slave & All Is Lost
Access movie critic Scott “Movie” Mantz calls “12 Years a Slave” a “masterpiece,” but is it Best Picture material? And if so, can it beat “Gravity”? Plus, while Scott calls Robert Redford’s performance in “All Is Lost” “remarkable,” does he think it can be a contender?
MovieMantz Reviews: Captain Phillips; The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister & Pete
While Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz thinks Tom Hanks’ new movie, “Captain Phillips,” has all the makings of a great movie – why is he saying the film has some issues? Plus, what does he think of Jennifer Hudson’s new flick, “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete”?
Chloe Grace Moretz’s Carrie Premiere
Chloe Grace Moretz discusses why “Carrie” is “more relevant” today with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz at the premiere in Los Angeles. Plus, she talks about why she didn’t want to know when the bucket of blood would fall on her when she filmed the movie’s iconic prom scene. So, what was it like being covered in fake blood?
All Is Lost Review (MovieMantz)
Captain Phillips Review (MovieMantz)
Enough Said Review (MovieMantz)
Gravity Review (MovieMantz)
Toronto Film Festival Roundup: 7 Must-See Movies (MovieMantz)
Star Trek Into Darkness Fans Boldly Set the Record Straight
Blue Jasmine Review (MovieMantz)
Star Trek Into Darkness: Is It Really The Worst Star Trek Movie Ever? (MovieMantz)
Europa Report Review (MovieMantz)
The Wolverine Review (MovieMantz)
The Way, Way Back Review (MovieMantz)
White House Down Review (MovieMantz)
World War Z Review (MovieMantz)
Man Of Steel Review (MovieMantz)
The Hangover Part III Review: The Party’s Over (MovieMantz)
Star Trek Into Darkness Review (MovieMantz)
Iron Man 3 Review (MovieMantz)
42 Review (MovieMantz)
Oscar Predictions 2013: Who Will Win/Who Should Win (MovieMantz)
Top 10 Movies Of 2012 (MovieMantz)
This Is 40 Review (MovieMantz)
Zero Dark Thirty Review (MovieMantz)
Life Of Pi — MovieMantz Review
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 Review (MovieMantz)
Lincoln Review (MovieMantz)
Top 10 Baseball Movies Of All-Time (MovieMantz)
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz countsdown the top 10 baseball movies of all-time. Play ball!
Top 10 Movies Of 2012 (MovieMantz)
Access’ Scott ‘Movie’ Mantz counts down the best movies of 2012!
MovieMantz: Top 10 Christmas Movies Of All-Time
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz breaks down his top 10 favorite Christmas movies of all-time, with some titles that you might not expect!
MovieMantz 2011 Oscar Predictions: And The Oscar Will Go To…
Who will walk away a winner on Hollywood’s biggest night? Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz weighs in with his predictions!
MovieMantz: Oscar Predictions 2010 — ‘It’s Complicated? Hardly!’
Who will walk away a winner on Oscar night this year? Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz weighs in with his predictions!
MovieMantz: Best Movies of the Decade
Find out which films made MovieMantz’s list!
MovieMantz: Best of 2009
For the first time in a while, I actually had a hard time picking just 10 movies for my annual year-end best-of list. Ah, if I only had this problem every year…
MovieMantz Countdown: Top 10 Scariest Movies of All Time
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz counts down the top 10 horror films of all time!