Jessica Chastain portrays the C.I.A. Intel Officer that leads the charge in trying to find Osama Bin Laden’s courier, who will lead her (and the might of the U.S. Armed Services) to Bin Laden.
All the buzz Zero Dark Thirty has been getting is spot on. The movie was able to cut down 10 years of the manhunt for the most hated man in America into a modest 160 minutes; and I wouldn’t wish for a single frame to be changed. The C.I.A. is portrayed as a bureaucratic quagmire at times. I imagine that is not far from the truth. Even if you are the most hardcore news junkie you will still get startled out of certain explosive scenes.
Chastain is committed to the mission with an abundance of confidence and a pinch of OCD. She is headstrong, and will not back down on her personal duty to get the most dangerous man on the planet. Chastain wears multiple hats, acting as researcher and private eye. She is a major firecracker, and stands out in Islamabad or Washington DC. While I liked Chastain’s performance, I got a real kick out of Dan (Jason Clarke). He shows Chastain the ropes in the early days of the detainee program, torturing captured terrorist while Chastain sheepishly stands in the corner. Clarke was her biggest believer besides herself. In one scene Clarke is standing at a cage housing several monkeys. One monkey takes his ice cream cone, causing him to grin. A soldier laughs at this, saying “you agency guys”. In the background are captured terrorist in orange jumpsuits. I don’t know why that particular scene stands out to me. Perhaps it is because moments before and after Clarke was interrogating a detainee; or it was Clarke simply trying to retain his humanity in the midst of a war of ideals.
The scenes of torture have been controversial to say the least. Yes, they are a tad bit on the shocking side. When compared to the opening black screen complemented with 911 calls from September 11, 2001, the torture scenes are not as harrowing. It is important to remember that this is a dramatization of real events, and might not be 100% accurate. That does not mean Zero Dark Thirty is short on being a rich drama and a strong action-thriller.
I feel this movie is free of political propaganda supporting one party over another. Congress is painted as a bringer of doom, with Clarke warning Chastain to be cautious when using torture (when torture was no longer a necessary component and had shifted to being taboo). The men and women overseas are just trying to do their job. This movie has the power to bring you into the world of the characters, turning you into a fly on the wall. Applauses to everyone, cast & crew, involved with Zero Dark Thirty. We know how this story ends; we just don’t know the path that led to the mission accomplished signal “Geronimo”.
We will never know if Bin Laden heard the helicopter crashing near his compound. If he did, he must have been thinking “oh crap”.
Zero Dark Thirty – ★★★★1/2