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FLICKS: Zero Dark Thirty

Posted on 24 January 2013 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


Six years ago at the library where I worked, a colleague presented a picture of a man being water boarded. With condescension, my colleague said, “THIS is what our government is doing.”

“He is lucky,” I replied, “If he threatened to kill my family and friends, I would not be so nice.”

Our conversation about enhanced interrogations stopped. Yet, with the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the debate will begin anew. Zero Dark Thirty is director Kathryn Bigelow’s procedural about the Central In-

telligence Agency’s hunt for terrorist Osama Bin Laden. The highlight is the Navy Seal Team 6’s raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. Given the Obama Administration’s lack of transparency on the subject, Kathryn Bigelow provides an important public service and has created a criticproof movie.

At 157 minutes, the story leading up to the raid is fascinating for historians and true crime aficionados. Supposedly based on fact, only the names (and possible genders) have been changed to protect the those involved.

As seen through the eyes of Maya (Jessica Chastain), the film opens in darkness as we hear the voices of the victims from the terrorism attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. In 2003, Maya takes part in the enhanced interrogations and gleans a very important clue. However, under bloated bureaucracy and political pressures, this clue won’t be realized for seven years.

Zero Dark Thirty provides a good review of recent international history. While the United States homeland was kept safe after 9/11 (to focus on things like “reality television”), Bin Laden’s terrorist network bombed innocent people in London, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. From this history lesson alone, one sees the Bush Administration vindicated by his tactics in fighting terrorism.

If there is a flaw in Mark Boal’s screenplay, it is the presentation of Bin Laden. Instead of presenting a man, we are presented a mythical figure. Bin Laden’s execution is presented in shadows and blocked camera angles. It is as if Columbia and Universal pictures feared reprisal from Bin Laden’s demons.

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