Zero Dark Thirty (15)
Resolute handling of a determined manhunt
Friday 25 January 2013
Zero Dark Thirty is a gripping procedural thriller detailing the decade-long investigation which led to the military strike on Osama bin Laden's residential compound in Pakistan in 2011. It opens in a squalid bunker on a CIA "black site" in Pakistan in 2004, where a suspected Al-Qaeda middle-man is subjected to what the Bush administration euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation techniques".
"There's no shame if you want to watch through the monitor," the interrogator (Jason Clark) tells Maya (Jessica Chastain), an intelligence analyst assigned to the agency's Islamabad bureau. But Maya elects to stay in the room and confront the sight head-on. So too the film itself, which hopes to offer an unmediated, judgement-neutral representation of events.
Does it in some way glamorise military action? Well, yes. It's a movie, for one thing, and it stars Jessica Chastain for another. It is tightly edited and the action is compressed. But it is also sober, and trusts that there is enough drama, without having to manufacture more. It isn't much interested in its characters' private lives or personal histories.
If there is something in Maya's past to explain why she should remain so dogged in the hunt for Bin Laden, when everyone else in the CIA appears to move on, then the film doesn't care to tell us about it.
Instead, Mark Boal's screenplay – "Based on first-hand accounts of actual events", as the title-card puts it – is fascinated with intelligence-community jargon and "tradecraft". It is a workplace drama, about professionalism, pragmatism, military and government bureaucracy, and how things got done.
As is entirely right, it is up to the audience to pronounce upon the morality.
Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 National Orgasm Day: Six reasons (plus one bogus one) why they're good for us
- 2 The 'world's most beautiful vagina' has been debunked by science
- 3 Whoopi Goldberg tells Cara Delevingne to suck it up: 'She's not famous. I'M famous'
- 4 John Green schools morning show hosts after awkward interview with Cara Delevingne
- 5 Doctor Who: Christopher Eccleston says why he left the BBC series after just one series
Why Harry Potter's aged 35, not 26
Frank Ocean, where's that new album at?
Jon Snow: Kit Harington spotted in Belfast where Game of Thrones season 6 is filming
Drake responds to Meek Mill's 'diss' track 'Wanna Know' by laughing at the rapper on Instagram
Game of Thrones to run for at least eight seasons, according to HBO showrunners
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'