Zero Dark Thirty
All it took from one action was a reaction. On September eleventh, 2011, the Al-Qaeda led an attack on the United States that violated the safety of everyone. That resulted in one of the deadliest disasters that we are still recovering from. Once we realized that the attack came from Osama Bin Laden, we retaliated by going into the Middle East, declaring war on terrorism. One of these tasks was the organization of the biggest manhunt. We sent millions of solders and spent billions in weapons and technology, but were never any closer to finding one of the most evil men.
For ten years, we looked high and low in Afghanistan, thinking we would find him there. By studying his threat videos, he may have been hiding out in a cave somewhere, hooked up to a dialysis machine. It was in May of 2011 that we received news that he was shot and killed in Pakistan. Not even hiding in a hole, he was actually hiding in plain sight. Some people would call that stupid, but he was actually making the perfect vanishing point by going where not that many would consider looking. The story of how we found this man is all chronicled in the decade-long story in Zero Dark Thirty.
Without warning, the movie opens with a Saudi terrorist being water boarded by Navy SEAL Patrick (played by Joel Edgerton). His torture is being observed by newly sent CIA agent Maya (played by Jessica Chastain). No matter how much is being done and the screaming of “When was the last time you saw Bin Laden!” , nothing new is given that they already don’t know. Maya has made it her mission to seize and kill the mastermind of Al Qaeda, so she begins to look at many possible connections that the military wouldn’t consider.
As the years go on, she not only witnesses more Al Qaeda attacks, but becomes a victim. She and a friend were dining at a Marriot Hotel in Pakistan when it was bombed. The deeper she dived into the hunt, the more dangerous the situation became for her. She becomes a hit when some members of Al Qaeda attempt to gun her down in front of the American Embassy. With enough patience, she finds a courier who she believes is working for Bin Laden. The SEAL’s trace the messenger back to a compound in Abbottabad. This will lead into one of the most important nights in American History.
What excites me about Zero Dark Thirty was how gripping it was and how focused I was. The movie does throw a lot at you, but I was surprised with how easy it was to follow. By putting Maya pursuit as the focus, the movie gives a fascinating and well-paced account of the manhunt. Jessica Chastain gives what is probably the best performance of the year as the young agent who has the big imagination and right focus to make her a true patriot.
I know that much of the names have been changed and parts are fictionalized, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. Director Kathryn Bigelow applies a lot of the same storytelling style from The Hurt Locker, and brings an almost documentary-like narrative of the manhunt. By bringing us as close to the action as possible, we face each fare of the Al Qaeda with suspense, even though we know what’s going to happen in the end. Along with the earlier Lincoln, I felt like that I’ve just viewed a piece of American history at it’s finest.
I’ll give this five views of night vision out of five. Even if the sight of torture is a lot to take in, I still recommend Zero Dark Thirty to everyone. Not only is it exciting, but it’s a patriotic journey that brings out the Navy SEAL in all of us.