The final forty minutes of Zero Dark Thirty are absolutely gripping. You find yourself on the edge of your seat, waiting for that moment when the Americans take their revenge for all the horrors incurred throughout the years. However, the story that precedes these final moments is just as compelling, thrilling, and engaging.
Zero Dark Thirty isn’t afraid to go to the dark places many of us would rather not think about post 9/11. Director Kathryn Bigelow, and screenwriter Mark Boal, draw us in, almost violently, with an audio recreating the horror from inside the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 during the opening scene of the film. This was brilliant on their behalf, as it immediately sets the stage for the vengeance lust that fuels the CIA agents on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden throughout the movie.
CIA agent “Dan,” played ruthlessly by actor Jason Clarke, is our first look at what the film depicts as the unfavorable, but necessary loss of humanity that hunting one of the most dangerous and murderous men in the world entails, even though the characters inflicting the torture appear to be uncomfortable themselves in the position they find themselves in. The scenes of torture, including waterboarding, have caused the film to face a world of controversy, and are indeed grimace inducing. However, they become vital to the movie itself, as they lead to a valuable piece of information for a young agent that makes the hunt for Bin Laden her entire life.
Agent Maya, masterfully played by Golden Globe winner Jessica Chastain, is a strong-willed, highly intelligent and determined woman who lets us know almost right away that the lengths that she will go to in order to find and kill Bin Laden should not be underestimated; “I’m going to smoke everyone involved in this op and then I’m going to kill Osama bin Laden,” Maya says in one of her most chilling moments. Throughout the 10-year hunt for Bin Laden, Maya remains the most dedicated, most passionate agent, driven not only by a need to keep the “homeland” safe, but by the sheer need for vengeance for the lives lost during the 911 attacks, attacks overseas, and the loss of her CIA friends during the Camp Chapman attacks at the hands of terrorists. Through her absolute dedication the CIA is finally able to track their man down. As time goes on and the agents get closer to their goal of infiltrating Bin Laden’s home base of Abbottabad, Pakistan, even Maya’s superiors become intimidated by her ferocity.
When the SEALS are deployed to kill Bin Laden and Maya tells them that they are going to “to kill him for me,” you can’t help but get chills, and feel proud of this woman who never gave up in her beliefs, leading to one of the most important moments in American history.
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