Zero Dark Thirty

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke

Summary: In May of 2011, almost a decade after the events of September 11th, 2001, President Obama held a news conference where he announced to the world that Osama bin Laden was dead. Zero Dark Thirty is the story of “Maya” (Chastain), the CIA analyst who for ten years did nothing but focus on the hunt for bin Laden. Since ten years is a long time to cover, writer Mark Boal focused on specific moments of Maya’s journey. The first time we see Maya is during an interrogation, during which she looks uncomfortable yet determined to get the answers she needs.  As the movie progresses, you see a growing determination in Maya’s eyes until she finally gets her man.

This movie has received both praise and criticism and I can see why. The movie’s opening scene involves the torture and humiliation of a prisoner which I, like many people, felt a bit uncomfortable watching. However, I noticed that the guy doing the torturing wasn’t some sadistic nutcase. The character of Dan, played by Jason Clarke, came across as an intelligent and thoughtful person. He never takes pleasure in the torture he inflicts and he never takes it any further than he needs to.

For me it was the last 30 minutes of this film that really got to me. It was nerve-wracking when you finally see the Navy SEALs going into the compound. Even though I knew how it would end, I still found myself on the edge of my seat. The final scene of the movie shows Maya going home with the weight of the world finally being lifted off her shoulders. That scene alone should win Jessica Chastain the Oscar for best actress. More than anything, this movie is a tribute to Maya and all her hard work. Being an active CIA member she cannot publicly take credit for her efforts, so this movie does it for her.

Trivia: Director Kathryn Bigelow was originally doing a movie about the unsuccessful manhunt for Osama bin Laden. Obviously, the screenplay had to be completely re-written after bin Laden was killed.

Rated: R – For strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language.

Grade: A