After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, it was proven that the one man behind the bombings, the one who ordered the killing of more that 3,000 innocent Americans was a man by the name of Osama bin Laden. A known U.S. aggressor in the past, bin Laden was sent straight to the top of the country’s most wanted list. In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, a spotlight is shined on the almost ten year manhunt that took place after 9-11. Maya, a CIA operative, is working tirelessly to try and find the Al Qaeda leader. Her first taste of experience was with the interrogation of detainees. It becomes her job to evaluate the information given by the detainees under severe duress to try and locate bin Laden and his network of higher ups. After tracking a lead about bin Laden’s courier and losing some of her closest friends to the war on terror, she finally locates the courier and his compound, and after some surveillance, Maya believes that bin Laden is hiding there. Maya has to fight hard to get the CIA to listen to her discovery and she pushes at every available moment to convince the agency to go after the compound. Finally it is decided that a Navy S.E.A.L. team will be sent into the compound and investigate.
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed the Oscar winner for Best Picture The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty is an intense look into the life of CIA operative Maya and the rest of her team looking for high level members of Al Qaeda. Bigelow uses gritty and dark images to describe the aspects of Maya’s search including the use of torture on detainees. She makes an amazing film that even had me guessing my own knowledge of history. We all know that bin Laden was killed but her build up of the S.E.A.L. team raid created a huge sense of suspense although the outcome of the movie is public knowledge. Bigelow pieces together the puzzle of over ten years of searching and running down leads and transforms it into a sometimes-incoherent timeline of the hunt for bin Laden and the higher ups of Al Qaeda. That is the only bad thing that I have to say about this movie.
Back to the good stuff, you cannot write a review of Zero Dark Thirty and not mention the wonderful performance of Jessica Chastain. You may remember her as the unconventional Southern woman Celia Foote from The Help. Her portrayal of Maya is spot on and I have to say award worthy. She personifies the CIA operative who becomes so obsessed with the hunt for bin Laden that she is ostracized for her belief that he is hiding in this compound with his courier. She is at the top of her game playing the confident woman who turned the CIA on its ear in hopes of finding the most wanted man in America. She is now one of my favorite actresses and I hope that she becomes a favorite among the award circles because she deserves it. Kudos also needs to be given to Jason Clarke, who plays the head of the interrogation program after September 11th. His portrayal is controversial yet thought provoking as he takes you inside an interrogation. Take some time and discover Zero Dark Thirty for yourself, be prepared to be enveloped into an intense world of a manhunt in an excellent movie that takes you to the very heart of the search of bin Laden. This movie is not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to take the chance will be all the better for it in the end.