Zero Dark Thirty: OK, It's Evil, But Is It Any Good?
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Finally she tortures him so bad, and so non-stop, that he dies of it. We know this because one of the women in the office says, casually, like she's giving Chastain fashion tips, "So, Faraj went south on you. It happens."
And this is where, in spite of that glorious curtain of reddish-gold hair, and the perfect profile and the creamy spotless skin, Chastain is in WAY over her head.
It takes a certain kind of woman -- a certain kind of person -- to do what she (Maya/Chastain) does -- cold-blooded murder of the most hideous kind, murder by torture. The kind of person we're talking about here is vicious, tough, cold, fanatical, ruthless and merciless. Charlise Theron could go that deep, Halle Berry; but not Jessica Chastain.
After Chastain-as-Maya commits these heinous crimes, nothing changes. You don't see it in her face, her attitude, the way she carries herself -- nowhere. She just keeps truckin' along, on that tricky trail of clues leading to the Trophy of All Trophies -- Bin Laden in a body bag. Chastain's idea of playing this demented CIA ghoul is to act like a college girl pulling all-nighters at final exam time. By God, she is going to get straight f**kin As, even if she has to skip her daily shampoo and her tooth whitener.
Don't get me wrong. Chastain is still beautiful -- too beautiful, if you wanna know the truth -- as the picture staggers along to the Big Shoot-Out. But now it feels weird. We're supposed to root, root, root for the home team and Maya, the underrated short-stop. But something's off.
You schlubs never read The Picture of Dorian Gray, am I right? It's a novel about a handsome young dude who does a lot of sick sh*t -- gets down with depravity; messes people up, so they wanna kill themselves; drinks, does drugs and generally wastes himself -- and still comes across as a handsome young dude! Meanwhile, up in his attic, he keeps a painting of himself that gets uglier and creepier and more disgusting with every evil deed he does.
Well, I wanna ask the director of this picture, "Where is the secret Picture of Jessica Chastain that should be getting uglier and creepier, with every evil, torturing deed she does? Why don't we see the Chastain whose soul is crawling with maggots???"
OK, maybe I'm nit-picking.
Shall we move on? OK, only, moving on doesn't move so fast. More desktop gumshoe "detective" work. Bullsh*t, bullsh*t, they find a picture of the errand boy that was lying in a CIA file somewhere, for only eight years, bullsh*t, bullsh*t, they follow the guy in the picture until he leads them to Mecca, the Holy Grail, the Wailing Wall of great detective movie finds of the century! Osama Bin Bama's home address!!!
Send in the SEALs, right? Bang-bang, bing-bang. Wrap it up, roll the credits, right?
Oh, we're sorry, you can't punch out until we give you another blood-pounding hour of bureaucratic bullsh*t. Are you sure UBL is there? (The "U" is for Usama, which the uptight CIA refuses to call him anything but.) Are you REALLY sure? "Well, we can't torture anybody anymore, so we can't REALLY be sure, but the Redhead says SHE's sure. Blasé, blasé, yak, yak, around and around the conference table.
FINALLY, the Director tells the President it LOOKS like UBL is REALLY there, so …
Unleash the SEALs! Takes about another half hour for the SEALs to get warmed up and then … uh-oh. Remember when it actually went down, REALLY went down on CNN and CBS and NBC and MSNBC? The real deal was two choppers-full of the most pumped-up, most weaponized adrenaline-heads, with night-vision apps up their butts versus what? A tiny fraction of UBL's Extended Family!
The real deal was like this: A full platoon of CRIPS and a full platoon of BLOODS, with 30-round magazines in their assault rifles, unite together, and… bravely knock over a family candy store in Koreatown, Los Angeles, US of A.
That's the f**kin CLIMAX of Zero Dark Thirty!
So how does director Kathryn Bigelow make you feel like all your waiting was not in vain? Well, first of all, she shoots everything all green and very fuzzy, like you're seeing everything through the SEALs' night vision goggles. Sometimes she even makes the screen go black, so "realistic," like the goggles fritz out and the poor SEAL is as blind as all the people living in the big house. Black screen -- SEALs whispering to each other -- scary stuff very SUSPENSEFUL, so you won't remember this was the easiest job any SEAL team ever pulled since they first crawled up on shore, what? 50 years ago.
So, 157 minutes of your time. And what would this picture be, without Osama, without the high-wattage charisma of the Man in the Greatest Manhunt in History? Without "UBL," you got three average-quality episodes of "Cold Case"! If you cut out all the digital gumshoe garbage, you got one better-than-average episode. I'm telling you, the f**king Emperor is strutting around without a stitch on his f**king carcass!
And you blew $10, maybe more. Know who gets the last laff? You guessed it -- ol' Ozzy Bin Lozzy. F**ker transformed America like no politician or CEO could ever have done -- turned it into a big Chicken Shack, ruled over by Giant Mutant Foxes. I swear he's cackling in his watery grave.