Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

All image rights belong to Annapurna Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Icon productions
Image is property of Annapurna Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Icon productions

Zero Dark Thirty – Film Review

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Synopsis: An account of the mission to locate Bin Laden in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001.

Review: From start to finish, this film is very gripping. It starts with a brief flashback to 9/11 via use of the recording of the phone calls that took place on that terrible day. From there, it moves on to “the greatest manhunt in history.” The film leans largely on the intelligence and behind the scenes office work that went into finding the location of the world’s most wanted man at the time. Whilst the opening scenes use some graphic scenes of torture that have attracted a lot of controversy with some critics accusing the film of glorifying torture. In spite of all this, the film gives the viewer a solid depiction of all the events that occurred when the world was hunting for Bin Laden, and it does this very well.

A considerable focus of the film is on Jessica Chastain’s character Maya, a CIA operative who leads the CIA efforts as they sought to capture their number one target. Chastain excelled in her role, and her character development is fantastic to see as she starts the film as a very inexperienced CIA agent. As the film progresses, she becomes a very confident woman and she refuses to let anything get in the way of her goal of capturing and killing Bin Laden.  And as you watch her bury herself in her mission, you hunt for Bin Laden with her. You feel elated for her when she makes a breakthrough in her mission and you feel her pain when she suffers a setback. With so much focus on Chastain’s character and her objectives, the other characters that are in the film suffer from a lack of character development as they get very little screen time to make their mark.

After the 9/11 flashback, the film starts from 2003 with the torture scenes. It touches upon events such as the July 7th bombings, the bomb attack that took place on the Islamabad Marriott Hotel in 2008, the 2009 Camp Chapman attack and leads right the way through to the 2nd of May 2011, the day of the operation that killed the Taliban leader. The final scene is among the most intense scenes that have been filmed in the history of cinema. The viewer witnesses the US Navy seals attack the compound in Pakistan where Bin Laden was hiding. The full extent of the raid on the house is witnessed with the US soldiers killing many of the house’s residents and leads up to the moment when the world’s most wanted man at the time was killed. The subsequent raid of all Bin Laden’s possessions is also witnessed

A film like this must have been very difficult to shoot and while some aspects have been criticised for not portraying certain events in the way in which they actually happened. Kathryn Bigelow does a good job in giving us a deep and powerful film that will certainly leave its mark on the viewer. With Chastain fully deserving of her Oscar nomination for Best Actress among many other accolades, Zero Dark Thirty is a gripping tale of the hunt for the world’s most wanted man and it will leave you with a lasting impression when the film has reached its conclusion.

Pulsating action scenes aplenty, with lots of behind the scenes and edge of your seat stuff, this is a gripping tale of hard work and perseverance.


Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Django Unchained (2012)

Image rights belong to Columbia Pictures and The Weinstein Company

Django Unchained – Film Review

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo Di Caprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L Jackson

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Synopsis: A freed slave sets out on a mission to  rescue his wife from the clutches of a crooked slave owner, aided by a German dentist turned bounty hunter.

Review: In his latest work, director Quentin Tarantino again gives his audience another thrilling spectacle of blood and revenge. Like Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino sets his latest story in a historical context. With the former set in the World War II era, Django Unchained is set in the Deep South of the United States, with the slave trade and shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War.

All the film’s principal cast play their roles to perfection. Special mentions go out to Foxx and Waltz. Foxx delivers a powerful performance, as he goes from being a really timid and weak slave to a confident bounty hunter under the guidance of his German partner. Another stellar performance also comes from Waltz in his second film with Tarantino, the first being Inglorious Basterds. His performance here, like in Basterds, was one in the Austrian excelled and landed him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the second time, a rare achievement in Hollywood. Waltz and Foxx have great chemistry on screen and as the film develops, their partnership only gets stronger. Leonardo DiCaprio also excels in his role as Calvin Candie, the cruel and brutal owner of the plantation on which Django’s wife is held in captivity. Similarly, Samuel L Jackson, plays Candie’s fiercely loyal house slave, Stephen, and again, the performance by Jackson was incredible.

While Candie, initially appears to be the film’s main villain, it could be said that it is Stephen who plays the main antagonist. His relationship, or lack of it with Django is almost instantaneously hostile and only worsens as the plot develops. Meanwhile, the camaraderie between Stephen and Candie is fascinating to watch as Stephen is forever lurking over his master’s shoulder like a predator that is lurking, waiting for the right moment to pounce on its prey. The dialogue between the main characters is outstanding.

In true Tarantino style, the film has some very violent moments, some of which may cause the viewer to wince in horror. Yet, at other times, the violence is at times somewhat over the top, or excessive. Yet the violence is Tarantino’s signature piece and he delivers in emphatic style with some great action sequences. Nevertheless, the films offers moments that will keep you glued to your seat, or maybe hiding behind the couch in fear. However, the film offers comedy value and it has its comedic moments that will get the audience laughing. The length of the film may put some people off, as Tarantino films have had tendencies to drag on for a little bit too long. However, with Django Unchained, every minute counts and is important to the plot.

Another top drawer aspect of this film, as with many Tarantino films, is the soundtrack. With the likes of John Legend, Jerry Goldsmith, 2pac and Luis Bacalov, the soundtrack delivers the tone of each scene perfectly and hats off to Mr Tarantino for that. However, along with some criticism over the violence, the constant use of the N word in this film is another aspect has attracted a lot of disapproval from some viewers. In spite of this, Django Unchained is a terrific film and in my opinion, is Tarantino’s best yet. The character development, particularly Django’s is just superb. Similarly, the acting is fantastic all round with some terrific action sequences and a superb soundtrack. Waltz deserved his second Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Tarantino deserved his second Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Without doubt, it is a film that breaks boundaries, and goes places where some directors would not dream to go. It is controversial of course, but controversy and Quentin Tarantino practically go hand in hand. The film delivers on all fronts and it is a must see.

With top notch performances, excellent directing, a funny and sharp script, with over the top violence, this is Tarantino at his very best.