Alright, I’m just going to say it right now. I didn’t care for this film. At all. I’ve read the reviews, I realize the accolades are flowing and yet, I still found this movie to be perhaps a notch above a movie of the week. I think Kathryn Bigelow is a capable director, and yet I still find her renditions of very deep topics to generally hover on the surface. Rarely do I get the feeling that the drive behind the filmmaking is born of anything deeper than the headlines one could find on CNN. And, while I also realize film is meant to be a visceral experience, some of the footage later in the film is so dark, you can’t see, well, anything. Visceral or not, it’s still a visual medium, unless someone has changed the rules on me.
There is some really superficial treatment of the torture done at the hands of our forces, leaving me with the feeling that the filmmakers felt that, well shucks, maybe this torture stuff isn’t so bad after all. The horror that is and was inflicted upon people by our military and government in the chase of often questionable goals (Iraq anyone?) is not addressed in this film in any form that does it justice. Torture is ugly and if you ever see it for real, you’d never dress it up like these producers did. Through it all, we have a very monotone performance by Jessica Chastain, who frankly, I felt was completely flat in this role. I just don’t think she had the depth to bring the complexity of this character to the screen. In the final reel (only a minor spoiler here, we know what happened, right?) when she discovers that the fruits of her toil and labor for the 10 years previous have been vindicated, what I saw on screen looked like a woman that had just found a favorite pair of long lost earrings. At the end of the day, I’m left feeling like the filmmakers exploited a complex and incredibly emotional event with enormous national underpinnings, simply because it was sensational and it would put some butts in theater seats.