Zero Dark Thirty

It was a Tuesday morning.

   Still a bit tired after a night’s work at Target, I awoke from my usual morning sleep, dragged myself out of bed, found my remote and switched on my tv just to see what was on. It was around 8:56 a.m.- ten minutes after the first jetliner had hit. The first thing that appeared on screen was one of the World Trade Center towers with a huge smoldering hole in it. My eyes narrowed. At first I thought some numb nut with a Cessna had crashed into it by accident. By the time the second plane hit the other tower, it was apparent that this was no accident. I had witnessed an event that would completely and utterly transform our world. On September 11th 2001.

Zero Dark Thirty (military lingo for half past midnight), which chronicles the tracking, finding and eventual killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden, picks up two years afterwards ,preceded by a totally black screen  accompanied by many and varied distressed voices from that horrible day. It seems quite inevitable after hearing such cries that the film opens with the brutal, relentless torture of terrorist/financier Ammar (Reda Kaleb). The controversy over this scene , as well as the film in general, unfortunately was also inevitable.

  Despite protests from some of our most prominent federal officials, Kathhryn Bigelow’s follow up to her intense “The Hurt Locker” does an excellent job focusing on the main events and personnel which were responsible for taking down the world’s most dangerous terrorist. A focus that would take a grueling ten years to realize.

  Jessica Chastain’s Maya is undeniably the quintessential mainstay who pulls all the pieces together in her relentless pursuit of Seal Target:Geronimo Her character is based on a real CIA operative whose name, for obvious reasons, will for the time being, remain anonymous. From the beginning she insists on being present during all interrogations- including the torture. For the next decade you witness her tireless efforts, pouring most of her emotions (while sacrificing some in the process) into keeping her eyes on the ultimate prize.

  But Maya’s not the only one who is unwavering. Even more so is CIA member Dan,played by Chicago Code alum Jason Clarke. He introduces Maya to what maybe our country’s Pandora’s box. In any case, Dan is to physical suffering as Maya is to mental, emotional apathy towards those forced to endure it.

   For a relatively new screenwriter, Mark Boal was already showing promise scripting The Hurt Locker and the story for The Valley of Elah. Whatever type of professional relationship he had with Bigelow(there were some ugly rumors), overall it must have been good for Zero Dark Thirty. With hardly any throw away lines Boal maintains plot and character movement akin to the old Dragnet tv series. Although you already know what the eventual climax is, Boal and Bigelow keep you on edge right to the final gun shot for God and Country.

    When President Obama made the reserved, triumphant announcement on May 2nd that Bin Laden had finally met his demise, it was a victory for every American. It’s hard not to have the same ecstatic attitude after watching the raid on the Al-Qaeda leader’s compound in Abbotobad. Whereas all the other intricate details of the operation as well as the many, many others who participated in Bin Laden’s downfall could never possibly have been included,Zero Dark Thirty’s concentration on the primary characters and operation reinforces that great victory for all of us.

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