“Zero Dark Thirty”–Director Kathryn Bigelow Does It Again

To be honest, I had never even heard of film director Kathryn Bigelow until I saw 2008’s “The Hurt Locker.” And I didn’t even see “The Hurt Locker” until a year or two after it had come out. When I finally did see that flick I was enthralled by not only the action scenes and emotional depth displayed by the actors, but the way that the plot slowly built, climaxed, and then resolved itselt kept my attention until the very last scene. And after the last scene I wanted to watch the movie again. I felt the same way after watching “Zero Dark Thirty.”

“Zero Dark Thirty” is a film about the search for and the subsequent killing of Osama bin Ladin. Jessica Chastain plays CIA agent/analyst “Maya,” who spends years gathering and piecing together intelligence to figure out the hiding place of the man the United States held responsible for planning the September 11th terrorist attacks that murdered over 3,000 American citizens.

The audience is first introduced to Maya during an interrogation which uses the technique of waterboarding to force a suspect to become more willing to reveal information. At least one member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is on record urging fellow AMPAS members to vote against the film at the upcoming Academy Awards due to the depiction of scenes involving torture. Even politicians have felt the need to speak out about what they feel are misleading scenes:

Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and John McCain (R-Arizona) wrote a letter to Sony Pictures chairman and chief executive Michael Lynton claiming that the film inaccurately depicts torture as producing information that led to bin Laden’s capture.

Michael Lynton responded to the letter by claiming that the film does not endorse torture–and I, for one agree with him. There are very few scenes involving torture in the film, and the plot takes place over a period of years. After watching the movie, you will come away feeling as if the perseverance, determination, and smarts of Maya are what led to the death of bin Ladin–not torture techniques.

SEAL Team 6, the elite Navy team that actually carried out the raid on the compound where Osama was hiding, do not make an appearance until well into the film. But boy oh boy are they worth the wait. The men who play members of SEAL TEAM 6, led by actor Joel Edgerton (“The Thing”), do not disappoint. Can you say ‘easy on the eyes’ three-times fast?

Some of the transitions between scenes are jarring, and the dialogue comes across as melodramatic in a few places. But these are very minor distractions from a thriller that is virtually perfect in other respects.

Sure, you already know how the movie ends: Osama bin Ladin is killed after a raid on his hideout in Pakistan. Bigelow’s masterful directing and Jessica Chastain’s acting will hold your attention every second until you reach that end.