“Zero Dark Thirty” Gives Viewers ‘Proud to be an American’ Feel

Posted on February 22, 2013 by


Zero Dark Thirty is an odd film in that we all know how it ends before we even watch it. It is commonly known that Osama Bin Laden was killed by Navy Seal Team 6 on 2 May 2011.

So, why bother watching if we know what happens?

For starters, Zero Dark Thirty is much more than just the hunt and assassination of Osama Bin Laden. It is a scattershot portrait of the messy war on terror and the questionable tactics used by Americans when trying to fight it.

Much has been made about the film’s bleak and cringe-inducing depiction of torture. Some have gone far enough to suggest the film is pro-torture, though film doesn’t obviously come with any political agenda.  Instead of endorsing torture, the filmmakers just showed it how it was.

Realism is one of the film’s strongest attributes. The script, written by Mark Boal, contains razor-sharp dialogue, and not a single line rings false.  More importantly, he manages to take the entire story of the hunt for Bin Laden, which theoretically started on 9/11 and dragged on for the better part of a decade, and condense it into a thorough yet entertaining two and a half hour narrative.

It was up to director Kathryn Bigelow to work out the complex pieces of the puzzle. Zero Dark Thirty contains a lot of information, statistics, names, and places, but this is balanced out with tense sequences of action.

Overall, it works perfectly as a historical film:  you learn something while being entertained.

The story is mainly told through the eyes of Maya (Jessica Chastain), a strong-willed CIA agent who was pivotal in finding Bin Laden’s safe house. The audience is able to identify with her more than any of the males in the film, mainly because Maya isn’t completely de-humanized by the rampant torture and violence.

In a cutthroat world, though, she is bold and devoted to her work. Chastain finds a perfect mix of humanism and professionalism in her performance.

But at the end of the day, it was the guys who got Bin Laden. In the most intense stretch of the movie, the raid on Bin Laden’s safe house by Seal Team 6 is depicted in almost real-time.

The scene has a documentary-like feel to it. Needless to say, it is riveting, and it’s hard not to feel proud to be an American while watching.

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