Manhunt!—- Zero Dark Thirty

Black Hawk, black ops, black night, black deeds. The cover of darkness. The color of darkness. The character of death.

Zero Dark Thirty is without question most of the riveting manhunt movies ever made. It has the sort of gritty reality character we have become accustomed to with films like Saving Private Ryan. And full marks to Kathyrn Bigelow who does not race through the painstaking intelligence and detective work in order to arrive at the foreknown and foreordained conclusion. This movie is not for the faint of heart, nor does it make me want to be: 1) a CIA agent, or 2) a Navy Seal. And certainly there is plenty of irony in the film when we have juxtaposed the President’s remarks that America does not defy the Geneva convention and torture, whilst depicting the torture of operatives from the world of terrorism. The torture scenes by themselves make this movie unsuitable for young children or even young teens, but I would say that any American who actually cares about the issue of terrorism should see this film. It shows just what a needle in a haystack job it is to find and bring down someone like Osama bin Laden.

From start to finish, this film is Jessica Chastain’s baby, her film to star in. She has been fantastic in other films (e.g. The Help, The Tree of Life), but here we see the full arc of what she can do. And it is very impressive. She has already won the Golden Globe for this performance, and I will not be surprised if she wins others as well. As Maya, Jessica Chastain is that relentless obsessed operative who will not give up until she ‘get’s her man’, the modern day Napoleon of terror. All the other characters revolve around Maya, or interact with Maya. She is a woman on a mission.

One of the interesting aspects of this film is that despite the fact we all know the outcome, nevertheless the film is gripping and rachets up the tension to a very high level. On the other hand, the movie doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in our intelligence service that it took this one woman so long to convince people to do something about what she had discovered. This story is based in fact of course, but we cannot know how accurate or close to the facts the story actually adheres.

The end of the film presents us with a drained, exhausted woman sitting in the back of a huge cargo plane, waiting to go home. What do you do for an encore once you’ve taken down bin Laden? We will never know. What I know is, that while I was at the Rose Parade there was a fly over of a stealth bomber. It was so quiet, I never heard it, I only saw it. It was this huge black bird flying low in the sky while making no sound. It sent chills down my spine. That is the way it is with successful black ops— run silent, fade to black.

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