I finally got around to sitting down and watching Kathryn Bigalow’s tale of the decade long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. While just as uncomfortable in parts as I expected it to be, this film is utterly captivating. Having not yet seen the Hurt Locker (I know, I know) I don’t have a point of reference from which to hang an in depth analysis, but I shall do my best in a few words. There is no romance, nor sex to give relief from the gritty and superbly realistic scenes of, Jessica Chastain gives a phenomenal performance. Charged by some as supporting torture, by others as criticizing the “enhanced interrogation techniques” of the Bush-era, Zero Dark Thirty does not actually do either of these things. Rather, it shows the torture and water-boarding as realistically as possible, showing too the toll it takes on the perpetrators, and the reliability of information gleaned from such means.
Bigalow avoided taking any particular stance with her film, few subjects are as mired in controversy and it would have been easy to get lost in political propaganda. The relentless search for Bin Laden needs no justification beyond that he was still managing Al-Qeada, and since 9/11 they had attacked Spain, Bali, London, New York. His location inside Pakistan and the need for the United States to engage in a covert operation without the prior knowledge of the corrupt Pakistani government narrowed the options of the team that went in and killed the terrorist. In a more perfect world I confess I would like to have seen him captured and put on trial, but that simply was not possible. He had to die. The film treats this extremely well by portraying it as a hard won end in a decade long enterprize that brought neither joy nor sadness. Chastain is critical to making this feel genuine, and she does with great aplomb.
I really can say no more except that Zero Dark Thirty is an indispensable film. It is as crucial to the story of the war on terror as Schindler’s List is to those studying the holocaust. Its remarkable to have lived through the post 9/11 period and now have a bookend like Zero Dark Thirty to conclude the epoch.
|The assault scene is gripping and spectacular.|