Devon's Review of Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty(2013)
Director Kathryn Bigelow's matter-of-fact, fly-on-the-wall, almost documentary-like films have an aura of authenticity to them despite their controversial subject matter. Case in point is "Zero Dark Thirty", a film that follow the CIA's billion-dollar pursuit of Bin Laden from 9/11 all the way to the raid that led to his death.
"Maya" (Jessica Chastain in an oscar-nominated performance) is the CIA agent recruited directly out of high school for the sole purpose of tracking down terrorists (and ultimately, Bin Laden). As the movie opens, she (and we) is introduced to CIA interrogration methods such as waterboarding for the first time. It's an ugly scene, the sort of activity that once was restricted in film to the nazis and other bad guys. Here, we are asked to justify the means to meet the end, and that we are doing this to the bad guys who deserve what they get. Regardless, watching us throw out due process after 200 years is a little jarring (to be fair, recognizing accused criminals rights' is a relatively new concept in this country- the reading of the Miranda rights didn't come about until the late 60s, for example). Bigelow doesn't offer any political proselytizing though, the film as a whole, feels politically neutral.
So how do we wind up catching Bin Laden? The whole thing feels like a bit of a let-down really (a combination of agent Maya's dogged determinism and some dumb luck ultimately leads to his downfall), but the film states the facts in a hyper-realistic manner that feels like we're watching the process of history unfolding right before our eyes. It's an amazing job of filmmaking, and of documenting our modern history.