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Zero Dark Thirty– Movie Review

Submitted by on December 28, 2012 – 10:46 amNo Comment

Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty, based on the true story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, is a fantastic movie. Possibly the year’s best. Heart-pounding practically from beginning to end, it is a searing, messy look at the clandestine work of war.

Maya is a young but veteran CIA analyst with one objective: capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. When interrogations start to reveal a network of personal couriers among Al-Qaeda leaders, Maya sees her best chance for finding Bin Laden- and sticks with it for almost a decade, as her superiors and even closest supporters urge her to focus on more immediate threats. When a courier is found and tracked to a mysterious compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Maya must convince the director of the CIA himself that Bin Laden is inside.

And, well, you know the rest.

Jessica Chastain is fantastic as Maya. With a squeaking voice,  tons of brains, a full-blown obsession, and conviction venturing into arrogance, Chastain’s Maya seems like a high school class president run amok- and I think that kind of vulnerable portrayal took a lot of guts.

The plot’s twists and turns are difficult to follow, but the result was that I was on the edge of my seat in a film where I already knew the ending. Argo and Skyfall- even Homeland- could take a lesson in how to really make the best spy film of the year.

Unfortunately, the film has been marred by a moral debate that is all too real. I can’t comment on the accuracy of the film’s portrayal of torture, or on the role torture played in finding Bin Laden. I’ll only say that calling this film simplistically “pro-torture” is an insult to Bigelow’s and screenwriter Mark Boal‘s complex and nuanced storytelling; and that advocates and citizens on both sides of the argument should not be pinning their views on a film that, no matter how thoroughly researched, is still fiction at the end of the day.

Did you see Zero Dark Thirty? What did you think?

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