Whether or not it justifies torture (and personally I think it’s far more interested in presenting the facts of reality rather than taking political sides), Zero Dark Thirty is a clinical piece of muscular film making. It’s muscular in its intensity and clinical to the point that it can be a difficult watch to get through. It’s portrayal of the hunt for Bin Laden begins by feeling utterly unwatchable because of its unflinching demonstration of torture before becoming slow and painstaking but nevertheless filled with a captivating rise in tension. Jessica Chastain cements herself as one of the finest actors, continuing her rise to universal acclaim. I wasn’t quite as enamoured with Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (2008) as some people but while Zero Dark Thirty provides similarly uncomfortable and heavy viewing (and it feels even colder), it pays off excellently with an edge of your seat finale, a true test of its strength given that we all know where it is going.
Review by David Rank
Zero Dark Thirty is out now in the UK. Certificate 15 (UK). Running time 157 mins.
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