ZERO DARK THIRTY
Powerful and Patriotic
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clark,
Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle,
Reda Kateb, James Gandolfini,
Chris Pratt, Joel Edgerton,
Mark Strong, Edgar Ramirez,
Harold Perrineau, Yoav Levi,
Scott Adkins, J.J. Kandel,
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 157 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures/Sony
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Executive Producer: Colin Wilson, Greg Shapiro,
Producer: Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow,
Writer: Mark Boal
Address Comments To:Michael Lynton, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chairman
Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman
Jeff Blake, Vice Chairman
Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia Pictures/MGM/TriStar/Screen Gems/Affirm Films/Provident Films)
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000; Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page: www.spe.sony.com/
The movie opens with a black movie screen while the screams of people dying in the Twin Towers on 9/11 can be heard. One woman says, “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die,” to the operator, and the operator just tells her to lie down on the floor and wait for the firemen, which was the wrong thing to do. When the line goes dead, the operator says, “Oh God.”
Cut to a CIA black site where Dan, an interrogator, is ruthlessly interrogating a money handler for Al Qaeda. An attractive, well-dressed woman named Maya is brought in to the interrogation, her first day in the field. The interrogation is intense, but it’s clear that it’s necessary to stop another Al Qaeda attack.
Working with Dan, Maya brings intelligence and strategy to the interrogation. She discerns there’s a common thread to the prisoners. Apparently, Usama bin Ladin relies on a secret messenger going by the name Abu Ahmed.
Dan and Maya continue their interrogation work in Pakistan and Afghanistan to find bin Ladin. Just as they seem to be getting close to him, the higher powers in Washington, D.C., led by the new president, Barack Obama, start to waffle on pursuing bin Ladin. Dan doesn’t want to put up with the new policy, so he decides to leave the field. He tells Maya he’s going back to Washington, D.C., and she should do the same to protect her repurtation.
Maya, however, becomes depressed that they’re not finding Usama bin Ladin. While visiting a friend in a Pakistan hotel, the hotel blows up. Maya and her friend barely escape with their lives.
Later, her friend decides she has a great lead to Usama bin Ladin. She meets with a doctor who’s going to bring information about bin Ladin. However, it’s a ruse. There’s an explosion, and some CIA agents are killed. This makes Maya even more driven to find bin Ladin.
Eventually, Maya locates Usama’s messenger in Pakistan taking messages to a compound in Abbattobad. Maya has to convince a very reluctant Obama White House to take the compound. The rest, as they say, is history.
ZERO DARK THIRTY is very patriotic. After her friends are killed in Pakistan, Maya states, “I believe I’ve survived to capture Usama bin Ladin.” In the end, they talk about going into bin Ladin’s lair for “God and country.” The CIA and the military are seen as good guys trying to protect people. Al Qaeda is seen as constantly attacking and killing innocent people. The good guys try to stop this slaughter. They understand the gravity of the situation as they strive to protect America and Western Civilization.
Sadly, there are people in the CIA who are more bureaucratic, and there are people in the White House who are more political. They aren’t concerned about the threat to America. One man says we have to decide whether to follow politics or solve the problem. Politics is clearly not helping to solve the problem. Maya is the only one driven to solve the problem, and that a woman found UBL is great justice in light of the sexism of radical Islam.
That said, there’s a lot of military violence, interrogation violence in ZERO DARK THIRTY. Also, there’s a lot of strong foul language. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
Director Kathryn Bigelow is a brilliant filmmaker. However, you never see the villain in ZERO DARK THIRTY. So, the villain is always behind the shadows. A great hero needs a great villain. Without having a villain, then everything is done in reaction to the attacks. Thus, at the end of ZERO DARK THIRTY, when everything is solved, there’s little feeling of exhilaration about defeating a nefarious force.
ZERO DARK THIRTY is extremely well made and powerful. It’s also very patriotic and makes President Obama’s lax interrogation policies look naïve. However, you never see the villain. So, when everything’s solved, there’s little exhilaration about defeating a nefarious force. ZERO DARK THIRTY also contains many strong obscenities and intense violence, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.