12 January 2013 | drqshadow-reviews
Dense, Valid and Sometimes Riveting, it Frequently Gets Lost in its Own Material
This (slightly) fictionalized dramatization of the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden is often difficult to watch, for a variety of reasons, but that doesn't mean it isn't any good. It's just not your typically polished, glistening Hollywood rendition, and that takes a bit of getting used to. Flubbed lines are left in the final cut, which serves to humanize the cast. Quiet, unsuspecting character moments are unforgettably interrupted by sudden explosions of violence - effectively mimicking (or so I have to imagine) the bloodrush of a real-world terrorist assault. The methods of torture employed in America's hunt for Al-Qaeda's leader are brazenly featured, as are the mixed spoils of their occasional success. The first act points a firehose of information at the audience, leaving them just as overwhelmed and buried by minutiae as the lead. Jessica Chastain is fiery and confident in that role, essential traits for the complicated character she occupies, but the rest of the supporting cast fades into the wallpaper when she's around. The actual onslaught on Bin-Laden's compound, which eats up the last hour of the film, is the smoothest and most accessible scene by a longshot, remaining factual and vividly lifelike while also ratcheting up the pacing and the tension. As a whole, though, the film is well-acted and effective, but often slow and over-inflated. Though it paints just one side of the story, it refrains from drawing any final conclusions and instead leaves the viewer to deal with the validity of America's motives and methods.