My Review on Zero Dark Thirty


Before I watched this film I heard that CIA operatives were saying that the movie wasn’t entirely accurate. Truthfully, this did affect my willingness to run right out and get brainwashed with inaccurate information about one of the most pivotal operations in the past several years.

Most poignantly, the CIA did not torture certain persons under certain circumstances (I think that rebuttal is par for the course) but they also said the film was inaccurate in the actual operations involving OBL’s death.  I think there was a woman, though. So there’s that.

I think it was a precise decision to not address what veins of the film were truly blood red and which were fake. Much like the Blair Witch Project, the phantom of truth carries a whole lot of steam of it’s own that a full marketing campaign can only dream of. But, there was something lost in the quiet corner once the challenge was thrown out in the ring. I can only guess that accepting that challenge would involve naming and digging up proofs that would only harm those involved.

Turns out Bigelow, the films female powerhouse director, started this particular version of the project once she realized there was a woman on the front lines who has spent her post high school life researching OBL and his operations. The film does an excellent job opening us up to this woman’s lonely yet laser focused life. Despite her beauty, she somehow circumvents every male flirtation to focus on finding and killing the most notorious terrorist of all time.

How did they find him? How did they plan this? You’d have to really be a poor filmmaker and writer to really botch this real life plot up. It’s like being given an already cooked turkey on Thanksgiving and burning it in the oven!

Maya, played by Chastain, locates the man who’s thought to be OBL’s courier and they finally follow him to the house after they figure out how they’ve been avoiding detection. They can’t just go in and raid a house only 1 mile from Pakistan’s military base because that would just be insane. You know, less insane than allowing Bin Laden to continue to plot murders. The crux of the film.

So, Maya and her boss have to get complete sign off from the President and his gnarly minions who sit eating peanuts and crunch risk and reward as if the end of humanity is simply one calculation away. It needs to be pretty much a certainty that he’s in there, but it’s impossible to get visual confirmation with the way the apartment is laid out. And the plot thickens…

Everything leads to the evening that the raid’s going to take place. This woman has spent her whole life finding him and it’s not even for certain that he’s in the house. She had to fight everyone to even get the help she needed to even locate this house. So if she’s wrong, she’ll never work for the CIA again.  There aren’t any “oh sorry, better luck next time” cards coming from the government.

The following 30 minutes shows the actual raid on the house and it was brilliantly directed. It’s exactly how you’d expect that raid to be. Bigelow did a fantastic job and I wasn’t left dreaming for more blood or chaos; she blended it perfectly. I wasn’t aware how many people were actually living at the house so that was pretty fascinating.  But again, I’m guessing that part is true. (Update I saw an HBO special with the actual CIA operatives and this did seem very true to real facts).

Most importantly, Bigelow never shoots a film void of morale undertones, so why should this be any different?  She’s just got this ability to pull the skin off of the nerve and just show it to the audience without having to explain it or paint it with a thousand colors.

As much as this was a huge win for us all, several people had to die and poor Maya is left completely empty and without anyone to even go home to. No one really won per say. But at least we can sleep better at night. The sad part is no one will ever really know her and the endless hours she put into this.

The movie made me think of Homeland, the HBO T.V series. Which is a compliment in my book. One negative I wanted to point out is they had Chris Pratt play this “full of it” and cocky operative sent in to get OBL with his crew, but it came off really limited.

I’d give this film a B+.





About: Michelle:
Entertainment writer..

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