We don’t like admitting we were wrong, but when it comes to the movie Zero Dark Thirty we were … dead wrong.
Two years ago, we predicted this flic would be nothing but a pre-election Obama for America commercial … a little Hollywood “atta boy” for U.S. President Barack Obama. Turns out we should have had a little more faith in moviemaker Kathryn Bigelow, who won best director and best picture Oscars for her 2009 masterpiece The Hurt Locker.
Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is an apolitical masterpiece – an exquisitely crafted three-hour thrill ride which chronicles the hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and culminates with an unflinchingly realistic depiction of the covert operation which assassinated him. Easily one of the best movies we’ve seen in several years, Zero Dark Thirty strikes the perfect balance of tension and release – permitting searing visuals rather than hackneyed dialogue to conduct the exploration of its central themes.
You know … themes like What took us so long? and Why are we waterboarding people?
In fact right from the get-go Zero Dark Thirty announces its departure from the norm by permitting audio recordings from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to launch its narrative rather than the iconic imagery of the burning World Trade Center towers.
Then there is the command performance turned in by actress Jessica Chastain – who portrays an emotionally autistic, foul-mouthed CIA analyst whose refusal to shake an oft-disproved hunch leads to the ultimate payoff. Chastain won a Golden Globe for Zero Dark Thirty (how she failed to bring home the Oscar for her performance is beyond us).
She drives the movie’s tension, though … including the total lack of interest she shows for any of the male leads, most of whom she views as obstacles to overcome in her dogged pursuit of bin Laden.
In fact Bigelow’s ability to keep the audience on the edge of its seat despite knowing the ultimate resolution of all that tension is a testament to her genius as a director.
Also, the movie’s distributors did the right thing by postponing Zero Dark Thirty‘s release until after the 2012 presidential election … not that Obama or GOP Mitt Romney wound up differing much on foreign policy.
This website has long maintained that the United States not only invited the 9/11 attacks – but stoked additional anti-American extremism via our misdirected response. In fact we believe the neocon whores shilling for our nation’s military industrial complex are continuing to needlessly provoke future attacks – making them some of the most dangerous people in our country.
Having said that the assassination of bin Laden was absolutely a “core function” of government – whether we provoked his organization or not. Every terrorist who was involved in the 9/11 attacks should be hunted down and killed – a process which could have been expedited had we not decided to take out Saddam Hussein in Iraq or wage an ongoing war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Now as for those 4,700 drone deaths – and our government’s willingness to use those drones on American citizens – that’s another matter.
As for the enhanced interrogation techniques graphically portrayed in Zero Dark Thirty, we don’t have a problem with them (as we’ve noted previously). Seriously … ask the family of Daniel Pearl how al-Qaeda treats its detainees. Also, the last time we checked taxpayers were building soccer fields for our enemy combattants – not torturing them.
Anyway … none of that detracts from the status of Zero Dark Thirty as a work of art, not the ra-ra political statement we expected it would be. Instead of pre-election propaganda, we were treated to a movie that actually exceeded The Hurt Locker in its scope and intensity.