Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Brief review: Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow succeeds yet again with another bold and daring project for the manhunt of enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden, based on actual events. Bigelow lets us witness the near decade operation, revealing interesting details and hidden facts, making the experience not only gripping, but informative as well. The films also benefits from Kathryn Bigelow's incredible ability to keep things as realistic, and plausible as possible. There's nothing exaggerated, or Hollywood-ish about this movie, even when the action kicks in. The whole thing is stripped down to the bone, but that only helps to Bigelow for maintaining the intensity level, even when the film is slow and talky. The last 30 minutes are so thrilling, you may find yourself on the edge of your seat, but unfortunately the climax, namely the killing of Osama is nothing special really, hence, it may leave you slightly unsatisfied. Featuring lots of hand-held, camera work, intentionally simplistic cinematography, and washed-out colors, "Zero Dark Thirty" has a slightly documentary-ish feel about it that works to its advantage, plus, there's a certain grittiness to Kathryn Bigelow's shooting style, that adds further realism to the story. The film wouldn't be as great without Jessica Chastain's award-worthy performance as the workaholic CIA officer, Maya, whose angelesque femininity contrasts beautifully with her self-confidence and often intense personality, and the rest of the cast all do a brilliant job as well.
Overall summary: It drags a bit in the first half, and the slaying of bin Laden could have been way more dramatic, but nonetheless "Zero Dark Thirty" is a smartly-scripted, superbly-made, and truly engrossing piece of cinema, jam-packed with sheer, nearly obsessive intensity.