After that eerie, dark September 11th day, mourning the travesty of air terror attacks that killed 3000 civilians, the public became more aware and interested in Middle East foreign affairs and the evils of terrorism. Once U.S. intelligence discovered the evil mastermind behind the air attacks, Osama Bin Laden, there commenced the biggest manhunt in history. We became curious about the al-Qaeda evil network and how it operated, and if there were imminent threats in the future. Our emotions were boundless from sorrow, enrage, and impatience as to when the leader will be found and put to justice. As President Bush stated at the time, " This act will not stand; we will find those who did it; we will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running and we'll bring them to justice. We will not only deal with those who dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them and feed them and house them."
Year after year passed, and we were less attentive to news updates on the manhunt. Even if the terror act was not forgotten, we wanted life to resume normalcy. The idea of Bin Laden being found became a distant thought. Surprisingly, on May 2, 2011 President Obama announced on national television that Bin Laden was assassinated. We were astounded, relieved, and this peaked our curiosity as to the details of the operation. This would be satisfied by the release of Zero Dark Thirty, which means "thirty minutes before midnight " in military term operations.
Kathryn Bigelow (director) and Mark Boal (screenwriter), reunite to bring this story to the big screen, previously they worked on the academy award motion picture Hurt Locker. They chose the perfect release time with no competition to reveal this intense, riveting docudrama to the public. The movie depicts the 10year military operation of tracking the whereabouts of the al-Queda leader culminating in the Navy Seal Team 6 operation of his death in Pakistan. The lead character Maya, portrayed by Jessica Chastain (The Help) is a CIA analyst whose tenacity and prowess keeps her on track, undeterred by her male counterparts to accomplish the mission. She shines in this male dominated cast including Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) who takes a break from the mission while she persists, and Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) who dismisses her tip-off as inconclusive. This is not your typical Hollywood movie where the female character is distracted by love, or has too many wardrobe changes and too much makeup, but portrayed more realistically. She brings the feminine qualities of intuitively knowing something, emotional sensitivities, but with male qualities of dominance, risk taker, and leader. In a recent screening Q&A Jessica stated, “I asked the prop guy if I could have the pictures of the terrorists we were using in the scene, and took it to my hotel room to post on the wall”, keeping her in character the entire time.
Zero Dark Thirty was shot in India; the scenes and people capture the reality of the region. The movie does have some violent scenes to emphasize the controversial waterboarding techniques of the time. Bigelow and Boal did thorough research making the film as authentic as possible. Originally, the focus of the movie was on the failed attempt of capturing Bind Laden in Tora Bora, then Boal quickly and effectively revised the script to include the Navy Seal operation. The movie also reminds us of the other significant terror events during this decade. The Navy Seals 6 operation is depicted in such detail that it seemed like actual footage. The film engenders a closure to our curiosities in the assassination operation thanks to the diligence of Bigelow and Boal. Zero Dark Thirty will definitely be an Oscar competitor no matter how fierce the race. I give this movie a 4.5 out of 5 rating. The film will be in theaters December 19th.