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REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty

REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty

From the Oscar-winning team of “The Hurt Locker”,  the first woman ever to win a best director Oscar, Kathryn Bigelow re-teams with screenwriter Mark Boal, to recreate the long search for and ultimate killing of Osama Bin Laden.

The film begins with  voices, instead of images, from September 11th and then immediately switches to a torture-interrogation-waterboarding scene  that introduces us to Maya (Jessica Chastain), the CIA agent who with pitbull-like relentlessness, was behind the raid in Pakistan  that killed the September 11th mastermind.  We’re told that Maya is a composite  figure of several  real-life CIA agents  but it should be noted is actually the second film this year  that  depicts a woman as the person behind the Osama Bin Laden killing. The first was the little-seen National Geographic Channel film “Seal Team Six: The Raid On Osama Bin Laden”.

While this film covers ten long years, it is not a documentary. The only time we see President Obama  is a clip from “60 Minutes” in 2008 , which has him saying “America doesn’t torture”. That’s met blank stares from  Maya and 2  other agents.  In fact, we get a lot of blank stares from Maya.  She’s silent much of the film, making  her  performance all the more extraordinary. Definitely Oscar bait.

What’s frustrating is we don’t learn a whole lot about Maya or the other CIA agents . It’s just the here and now and the job at hand.  There’s no judgment  in this film.  By the way, James Gandolfini of “Sopranos” fame totally pulls the small role of CIA director. (Insert your mob/government jokes here.)

The performances are great but the film is  too long and often slow in the first 2 hours.  The last half hour is tense, taut and powerful.  About the  film’s title: Zero dark 30 is in military  jargon, the precise time , 12:30, when Navy Seals landed on the Pakistani compound.

This is a history lesson that needs to be seen.

3-and-a-half stars

 

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