Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Matinee: Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

 This was one movie I was PSYCHED to see.  I was going a little bit crazy trying to figure out when, exactly, it was going to open in Orlando.  It released in a small number of theaters in 2012, but nationwide on January 11, 2013.  My entire family saw the movie on that weekend.  

And oh the hype.  It worked on me.  How could you not be anxious to see, exactly, how they managed to track down Osama Bin Laden to a compound in Pakistan, 10 years after 9/11?  Before the movie was made available to most of us, it had already been nominated for an Oscar!  Plus there was the street cred of the director, Kathryn Bigalow, and screenplay writer, Mark Boal, who together created the amazing "The Hurt Locker" (which won the Oscar that year).

Bigelow's goal was to create a testament to the folks who dedicated every breathe of their lives for ten years to track down OBL...from a street level viewpoint.  The story hinges on a young, female CIA agent named "Maya" (Chastain) who doggedly, almost maniacally, chases down every lead, watches every detainee interview, looking for the trace of a clue.  She battles a whole sea of naysayers and skeptics, from the on-site techies all the way up to the Secretary of Defense, to trust her instincts.  Instincts which, ultimately, prove to be a goldmine.

The characters surrounding Maya are colorful and distinct...I thoroughly enjoyed Jason Clarke (no big movies until this one, but will appear in "The Great Gatsby" later this year) as fellow CIA agent.  But really?  This is Chastain's party.  She appears tiny and fragile, but underneath the exterior she is tough as nails.  She was perfectly cast.  

I am intrigued by the idea that there was truly a female CIA agent that played a major role in this manhunt.  She is still classified, obviously, but based on my Googling fest, there were some hard feelings about her getting all the glory in this movie.  And apparently she is so manic, she is a bit of a pain-in-the-ass.  I think any woman in that role would have to be though.  Otherwise, who would listen?

I found the entire story very grounded and edge-of-your-seat gripping for most of the movie.  The search for OBL was like looking for a needle in a haystack, and the movie does an excellent job of showing us the tedium required to track him down.  The climax, of course, and you know it is coming, is the Navy Seal invasion of the compound.  Wow.  These guys are something.  Like ninjas in the night.  Total badass.  Serious heroes.

The movie has gotten some really ugly backlash in the press about its depiction of detainee torture.  Critics say that the movie glorifies the torture, such as water-boarding, and implies that this type of torture was critical to finding OBL (they claim it wasn't). Well, I have an opinion on this (shocker I know).  I think it would have been negligent for Bigelow to leave out those torture scenes.  They are squirm-worthy, but are factually accurate.  It happened, whether we like it or not.  Bigelow shows us that the agents torturing these people had one goal in mind...to extract information.  She doesn't not show them having a good time while administering the torture, nor do they gloat or take pictures.  This movie is NOT the venue to issue a statement on the morality of torture.  The movie documents everything the US did to catch OBL.  It is highly irritating when people MUST find something to get upset over.  Stop over-thinking people, and just watch the movie or not.

The movie is R-rated for scenes of torture, as well as a few f-bombs.  Both of my teenagers saw the movie, and it made an impact on them.  They are both tuned into the events of 9/11, and the war on terrorism.  They both felt this was a historically relevant movie and were talking about it for hours afterwards.

Highly recommended.

5 out of 5 stars



12 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Jim wants to see this but I am afraid of the torture scenes

bermudaonion said...

I'm like Jill. I feel like I should see this but I'm just not sure I can stand to see it in the theater.

Ti said...

I have to be in the right mood for this one and I think the mood passed. I wanted to see it when it was first nominated for an Oscar but now, I feel as if I can skip it. I am okay with torture scenes but I am not all that curious as to how it all went down.

Darlene said...

I wouldn't mind seeing this one at some point but it would definitely have to be a rental that I can stop if I want to or fast forward.

Meg @ write meg! said...

I'm absolutely fascinated by the mission and Bin Laden's death, though I'm worried I would be way too squeamish to sit through something like this. I definitely have read a ton on the female CIA agent, though! So interesting.

Julie P. said...

I'm thinking of renting this one for my husband and I.

Marie said...

I agree that depicting the torture was necessary. It's reality, it's what our government does. I loved this movie. It was so gripping and fascinating. Once the yucky stuff was over and I could get lost in the hunt, I couldn't have stopped watching if I wanted to!

Jenners said...

I agree 100% -- great review! It is historically relevant and timely and intense and all those things. And the brouhaha over the torture scenes is ridiculous. We all know that U.S. does stuff it shouldn't … we're no angels. And I too am curious about the real "Maya." She's gotta be a bit manic and pushy and hard to have pulled this off. Jessica Chastain rocked this part!

Jenny said...

I actually thought the torture scenes were not bad. I was really afraid of that part. I can't decide if I want Jessica Chastain or Jennifer Lawrence to win the Oscar! I always make a big deal out of making my own votes, lol, and I'm torn. :)

stacybuckeye said...

I did not want tot see this AT ALL, but it was the only movie showing when we had a babysitter! So, I sat through the first 45 minutes thinking I wasn't going to be able to get through the whole thing, but then the movie turned to the more mundane (but still exciting) and I was intrigued. As much as I liked Chastain I never connected with her or anyone in the cast. I have to think the real CIA agent would have to be a pain in the ass if she was a woman, we are in total agreement on that.
I really like your movie reviews, Sandy.

Tasha B. said...

I want to see this, too. My dad uses that term, "zero dark thirty."

Kathleen said...

I've heard only positive reviews from friends who have seen this one and now yours joins the list. I've got to see this!