It’s easy to forget now, but there was a time when Chris Pratt was known solely for his comedic hijinks, for his ability to throw his body around, deliver one-liners and basically bring a physical side with the laughs that had him as one of the most enjoyable characters out there. His time as Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation introduced us to the actor who would go on to have a very different kind of box office career. But there was also a time when he was beginning to branch out into other productions, different ones meant to showcase his range and also his ability to play different kinds of characters. One of those early ones for him is crushing on Netflix. Zero Dark Thirty is sitting at number nine on the streamer right now in the United States.
Chris Pratt isn’t the main character in Zero Dark Thirty, far from it, but he did end up playing a critical role when it was all said and done. The movie follows the hunt for Osama bin Laden in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and other targets. The flick centers, in part on Jessica Chastain as Maya Harris, a CIA analyst who has made it a mission to get to the bottom of bin Laden’s whereabouts and use assets to try and infiltrate his organization in order to take him out. Chastain’s Harris is obsessed with the mission, working to find every available angle in order to get the information they need. There’s been a fair bit of controversy around the film, especially in the depiction of the torture tactics used on suspected Al-Qaeda operatives by the CIA.
Zero Dark Thirty spans a number of years that are focused on this hunt, which is why Chris Pratt’s character doesn’t come into the frame until later. In the search for bin Laden, much of which is based on true events, Maya Harris eventually believes she’s found the compound in Pakistan where bin Laden could be holed up. But it’s incredibly difficult to confirm if this is his actual hiding place, or just another head fake or bad lead. In many ways, Zero Dark Thirty takes us through the slow grind of intelligence work where having a hunch, or even seemingly solid evidence, simply isn’t good enough to pull the proverbial trigger on a mission.
Eventually, with the mission on the line, SEAL Team 6 is called in to infiltrate the compound and take out whoever is in there. This is where Chris Pratt comes into the mix and he plays Justin Lenihan, an operator within that unit. It’s here that we see, for one of the first times in his career, that Chris Pratt at least looks the part of a soldier from a cinematic side. It’s become somewhat commonplace for what his career has become, but again, this was a very different look for the actor at the time.
The rest of the movie, as they say, is history with Chris Pratt and company ultimately able to find and locate bin Laden in one of the more suspenseful scenes in recent movie history. Even knowing the outcome here didn’t detract at all from the technical precision of these final moments.
In addition to Jessica Chastain and Chris Pratt, Zero Dark Thirty has a loaded cast with a number of other notables making their way into the mix over the course of the film. Jason Clarke, James Gandolfini, Kyle Chandler, Mark Duplass, Harold Perrineau, John Barrowman, Edgar Ramirez, and Jeremy Strong are all part of the CIA group. And then there is the SEAL team which included Joel Edgerton, Callan Mulvey, Mike Colter, and Frank Grillo among others. Again, this cast was completely loaded.
Though Chris Pratt didn’t receive any accolades for the relatively minor role, Jessica Chastain was nominated for Best Actress while director Kathryn Bigelow got a nod for Best Picture, and Mark Boal was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. It was praised by critics, sitting at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. And, of course, it’s a chance to see Chris Pratt in one of his first tries at “soldiering” on the big screen, setting the stage for the action hero he’s become in more recent years.