Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton, Mark Duplass, James Gandolfini, Chris Pratt, Taylor Kinney
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Run Time: 157 mins
Genre: Drama/ Thriller
Opens January 4th
By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
Chances are, even if you are not one to follow the headlines of the day, you probably have heard of the name Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. In her latest film, Director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Point Break) brings audiences the accounts of how one of the world’s most wanted men was taken down by US Navy SEAL Team 6 and the CIA operative who found him. Due to the sensitive nature of the film, names of the actual operatives were changed to protect true identities.
Everyone should be familiar by this point of the event of 9/11 as the film opens with the chilling phone recordings of people trapped inside the World Trade Center Towers speaking to emergency responder operators or leaving messages for loved ones. Two years after 9/11, CIA Operative "Maya" was sent to a CIA Black Site for interrogation of a man known to have funded one of the 9/11 hijackers, Ammar (Reda Kateb). Interrogation of Ammar was led by senior CIA Operative “Dan” (Jason Clarke) which some of the interrogation methods included waterboarding, sensory & sleep deprivation, humiliation and confining isolation.
Maya and Dan knew that Ammar was part of the Saudi Group, which had been behind other terrorist attacks, but through this interrogation they first heard of a man that was known among the circuit out to be a courier for UBL, Abu Ahmed. After conducting several other interrogations of other known detainees, over and over again, Abu Ahmed’s name was mentioned as the guy who brought UBL his messages to the outside world. But the problem is that no one knew how to find Abu Ahmed, where he lived or how to contact him; he always found you.
Convinced this was the key to finding bin Ladin, Maya grabbed on to this lead, following her instincts when so many events and people are trying to lead her astray. Finally, a break in search of Abu Ahmed opens the lead wide up, giving Maya the leverage needed to go after him full force.
This is a fascinating story as the main raid event took place only a little over 18 months ago. Since that time, there was a book released on the operation by one of the Seal team 6 members and this film. Director Kathryn Bigelow does a fantastic job taking the audience on this frustrating, heart- pounding journey keeping the integrity of the characters at the forefront. Jessica Chastian was riveting in this role as it is quite different seeing her as a stoic, hard-ass operative going up against the boys club in the Federal Government Investigative departments. This is not her best role but makes it memorable in her own way, keeping the humanistic element in the forefront. How does this compare with Bigelow's other war film, "The Hurt Locker"? If choosing between the two, I would say "Hurt Locker" is the better of the two because it's less predictable, but "Zero Dark Thirty" is a stand out film that will leave viewer on the edge of their seat right up to the very end. Be sure to check out Zero Dark Thirty in time for awards season as it is already nominated for a bunch of Golden Globes and most likely for the Oscars as well. “Zero Dark Thirty” opens in Phoenix starting Friday January 4, 2013 and going to a wide release January 11th.