Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – Kathyrn Bigelow

The multi-Oscar nominated Zero Dark Thirty (out of six nominations, it only took home Best Sound Editing) is the next title on the What Else to Watch list following my screening of The Battle of Algiers for DK Canada’s highly enjoyable The Movie Book.

Kathryn Bigelow puts Jessica Chastain front and center as Maya, in this thrilling dramatic recreation of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden following the terrifying terrorist attack on New York City on 11 September, 2001.

An amalgamation of recorded reports, and files, the tale takes on an almost decade long journey, as Maya, a CIA operative and analyst, focuses all of her considerable intellect on tracking down the branches, threads and messengers that for Al Qaeda’s network, all with the intention of finding, apprehending and killing the terrorist leader.

The film is a crisp techno-thriller that sees and shows both the good and the bad of the American investigation. It doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the torture that was conducted on detainees, nor does it shy away from looking blatantly and brutally at the continued attacks on the western world.


Chastain is tonally perfect as Maya, as we watch her early moments, witnessing a torture, to conducting her own interrogations as she puts the pieces of the network together, with each step bringing her closer and closer to Bin Laden.

We see the military incursions, the surveillance, the red tape, and the frustrations that beset Maya and her people. And it is all portrayed earnestly and engagingly. the storytelling is rapid-fire, and very detail oriented. There’s a lot of information being shared and being processed, and watching Maya knit it all together, not alone, of course, because the intelligence communities and military arm were all working on the case, is something to behold.

The film boasts an impressive cast, with some well known actors, some relegated to just a scene or two, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, John Barrowman, Chris Pratt, James Gandolfini, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle, and Harold Perrineau, but none of them distract from the captivating way that Bigelow unravels her tale.

Watching events unfold, and seeing how things played out, is a stunning film experience. And best of all, Bigelow’s film doesn’t shy away from the brutalities on both sides, but it also doesn’t make judgments on them, it simply portrays things as they happened.

It’s a fantastic film, as it’s nomination for Best Picture indicates, and one that is definitely worth watching.

This and other amazing titles (which are constantly and continually expanding my cinematic knowledge) can all be found in DK Books’ The Movie Book, so pick one up and find something amazing to see tonight.




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