Movie review: Zero Dark Thirty (2013)

A historical docudrama movie, Zero Dark Thirty is an exciting, suspenseful and even chilling depiction of the decade leading up to the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden that often has you on the edge of your seat.

As a CIA officer, Maya (Jessica Chastain) has spent a large portion of her career focussing on al-Qaeda intelligence. Several years after 9/11 she is reassigned to Pakistan where she meets fellow officer Dan (Jason Clarke) she witnesses the process of gathering information – sometimes forcibly – from the detainees. While at first she is uncomfortable with the techniques used, she realises that it is important to national and international security that information is obtained. Time passes and we witness the 2005 London bombings, the 2008 Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing and the 2009 Camp Chapman attacks.

Despite the terrible attacks resulting in many deaths, Maya continues to seek information. She finally gets a lead on a messenger who lives in a highly secretive compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A compound where Maya believes Osama bin Laden himself is hiding. While her colleagues are initially sceptical and don’t give the lead high priority, they are eventually won over despite a lack of any solid evidence placing Bin Laden at the location.

Based on information gathered from round the clock surveillance of the compound, the While House and President Obama give the go-ahead to Operation Neptune Spear, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I remember watching live images of the September 11th attacks in New York City and July 7th attacks in London on TV, and while the acts are horrific, I have always been interested in how the government and military have acted and reacted behind the scenes and the steps they have taken to ‘marginalise the threat’.

While the movie is undoubtedly a captivating one that sheds light on lead up and execution of the operation that led to the death of Americas most wanted man, it may be a little bit on the long side for some people. Also the scenes involving the torture of prisoners have been criticised for glorifying it and may be uneasy watching for some, however the scenes were justified and not overdone.

The movie is very much in the same vein as Showtime’s hit drama series Homeland, and somewhat capitalises on its massive success. Despite the fact that you could very easily just replace the character of Maya with Carrie Mathison (thus creating Homeland the movie) this is in no way a criticism.

Zero Dark Thirty may well be considered just boring and uninteresting to some, and if you’re not definitely a fan of this kind of thing then I wouldn’t take a gamble on it. There are other more mainstream movies that you might enjoy more. However those with an interest in the subject matter or genre of movie better get comfortable because they’re in for an exciting (if a fraction too long) ride.

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One thought on “Movie review: Zero Dark Thirty (2013)

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Fantastic review Josh. Gripping, thrilling, and intense, Zero Dark Thirty is another very worthy contender for the Oscar race that puts you right in the action, especially with the immersible climax.

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