Well if this is truly the best film of 2012, I'd have to say 2012 is a pretty lame year. Luckily it is not as 2012 delivered some real knockouts like The Raid and Killer Joe. I must say though I do feel lied to as all the talk was that this was the shoe-in for best picture. All I can say about that is WTF?!?!?!?
Talk about heavy handed, talk about forced and out of place, talk about trying to hard, this film is all of that and then some. I wanted to like this so much. I had such high expectations here, Hurt Locker easily being among my top 5 of the past decade and all the "best of the year" hype. But IMO, Bigelow missed the mark here.
In Hurt Locker Bigelow and Renner deliver an intimate portrayal of an incredibly compelling, conflicted, unhinged, and ambivalent character that ranks among the best of the past 20 years or so in Sgt William James. In Zero Bigelow and Chastain give us Maya who is just a straight forward, driven, and, focused do-gooder. Nothing but a one trick pony. This is not to say Chastain was bad, the character just isn't that interesting. This is not to say that Zero is a BAD movie, it is just not a great movie.
Everything is in place here, everything is as it should be. I won't say that the actors or script had me thinking "these aren't really government agents, government agents wouldn't do that". It's just they were portrayed as every other government agent has ever been portrayed in every other movie containing government agents ever in history. Basically they were paper thin, one dimensional, and uninteresting. I take one thing back, during one of Chastain's many "rants/tantrums" directed at a superior, after about a half a dozen of the same "rant/tantrum" directed at other coworkers/superiors over and over again, I thought to myself no way would that shit fly. She would be F-I-R-E-D or discharged or whatever the fuck they do to can people. But it was really only a brief moment and not the major reason I feel this movie is OVERRATED.
In the end if Maya had more sides to her personality, if she did more than just rant and throw tantrums, if she was even remotely interesting to watch, this may have been a really good movie. Would that make it great, would that put it on the level of Hurt Locker? No, there are a few other places where it falls short as well but the lack of a compelling character is certainly the main flaw here and having one would certainly make it a lot better.
As for the seal team and their raid which make up the final 20 mins of the film, I will say I would have liked to see more of these characters. In their brief screen time, Joel Edgerton and his band of merry men were twice as entertaining as the suits. It could be said they were portrayed as the cliched cocky Navy Seal's but at least that is a fun cliche to watch.
The raid in the end, the big pay off was pretty dull too. I had also heard a little bit of chatter about how good it was and was expecting something along the lines of the opening action sequence from The Kingdom. Nope, nowhere near as intense and another pretty big letdown here now that I think about it.
In this genre, there have been several movies that have done the same one dimensional government agent and done it better. A few recent ones off the top of my head are Spy Game, Syriana, The Good Shepherd, and Breach. With Breach probably being the best of the bunch. I feel let down by this movie and wouldn't strongly recommend it. Again, it's not a bad movie it's just not great. 6/10 because I expected much more of Bigelow.