Zero Dark Thirty has made more news for its controversial politics than the actual concept of being a movie despite its high praise from film critics’ and its nomination for five Academy Awards. Reading some of the high praise from Time magazine, The Hollywood Reporter and other notable critics, I had to wonder if we watched the same movie.
The movie is far from being a bomb; it was interesting and lived up to its status as a dramatization of the years of intelligence gathering in the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. It gave you a greater appreciation of the intelligence community who often goes unsung in success stories like this and of course it exemplifies the skill, professionalism and bravery of our military, in this particular case, the Navy Seals.
First let’s put the politics and partisan accusations in perspective. Those who opposed President Obama made it an issue when the movie was scheduled to be released in October just before the Presidential election, to subtly serve as a reminder that it was on Obama’s watch that Bin Laden was killed and it was Obama that gave the order. As you will see in the movie and as we know in real life the intelligence gathering for Bin Laden began immediately after the tragedy of 9-11 and came to a conclusion when Bin Laden was finally tracked down and located. In fact Obama is not even shown in the movie or referenced by name. Regardless, the movie was set for a limited release date in December and a general release date of just last week. Just in time to be considered for the academy awards and after the Christmas period, which is considered to be a competitive time in the market. If we are to believe the intelligence gathered is accurate, Obama made one hell of a gutsy call and rolled the dice on giving the order.
The next issue in the political realm is the use of torture and classified information depicted in the movie. The claim that classified information was leaked about the raid was never proven; it’s more likely that retired military personnel and “military think tank” analysts were used to give it its sense of realism. The movie is filled with torture scenes which some may find too intense, even though it’s only a movie, I am willing to bet it pales in comparison to what really happens. Our wars are not the one’s our fathers or grandfathers fought where the Geneva Convention and prisoner of war rules were at least somewhat followed or respected. They were conventional wars fought against countries whose soldiers wore uniforms. The playing field and the rules of modern warfare have changed.
You can decide for yourself if the torture of terrorists to save American lives is justified and necessary.
The movie is dry, it drags at times and there is only momentary sporadic action to keep you on edge. The acting is superb though and its 95% drama and 5 % action. The real action comes in the last 15 minutes of the movie when the raid on Bin Laden’s compound is executed. The closing scene with the movies star, Jessica Chastin, who is up for an Academy for best actress which she earned, was disappointing but thought provoking.
If you’re a cable news junkie and the analytical type, the movie is for you, if you’re looking for non-stop war type action, you will walk away disappointed.
If you like the movie or not, the real life and movie ending is that Bin Laden is dead and we can all sleep better tonight as a result.