Zero Dark Thirty ★★★ Plus

Zero Dark Thirty

★★★ Plus

Zero Dark Thirty 2 hrs 37 min Director: Kathryn Bigelow Main Character: Jessica Chastain as Maya, stationed in Pakistan to collect intelligence for the CIA. This is the story of the greatest manhunt in the world: the elimination of Osama Bin Laden.

Since 9/11 the focus of America has been on the apprehension/assassination of Osama Bin Laden. For more than a decade our CIA, in affiliation with Navy Seals world-wide, labored toward that goal: ridding America of the man at the bottom of so much world-wide turmoil. Bigelow does it without surrendering to emotion. As in “Hurt Locker” she devotes herself to the world of the military. She unweaves the scenes of a realistic almost documentary-style storming of the Bin Laden compound.

In this movie there is a twist and she focuses on a rising CIA agent, Maya, who as a woman, isn’t quite accepted into the male-dominated world of espionage. Silently I sat in my seat cheering on this character. I didn’t want Maya to give in to her colleagues’ dismissive attitude of every lead and conclusion she draws. Still, I never feel quite simpatico with Maya. Simply, I don’t know who she is, what motivates her or where this motivation comes from. Bigelow keeps us from asking these questions, tries to keep us focused on the goal. The only thing of relevance, Bigelow subliminally suggests, is Bin Laden.

This was a tension-driven movie, a thriller. Still, as exciting as the story is, the ending left me cold. Maya gets in the shell of the plane alone to return home and sheds one tear? It is over for her. But wouldn’t a heightened adrenalin dictate a more emotional conclusion? After a decade manhunt, after fighting her colleagues and supervisors with her theories for ten years (and finally proving herself right), after the successful conclusion of a life-consuming commitment (to capture Bin Laden), wouldn’t that evoke more emotion? It was our chance to be closer to her and it was ignored. It is as if Bigelow is telling us: don’t worry about Maya; this story is about much more.

From what I read elsewhere, the men portrayed in the CIA headquarters were all promoted and that Maya was the only one who was not. Why didn’t Bigelow include that in a role of information as the story concluded? ★★★ Plus


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