I attended an advanced screening of Zero Dark Thirty, including Q&A with director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal. This film about the hunt for bin Laden will be in theaters in a few days.
In a word: See it. Highest recommendation.
I almost didn’t bother to go. Figured I already knew the story. The raid into Pakistan, the death of bin Laden. What can they do but simply re-enact what’s common knowledge?
But the story told here isn’t explicitly the raid, although that’s certainly the icing on the cake; the story is how we got to the raid. The global manhunt, the impossible search for the needle in the haystack — except this is a haystack that shoots at you as you sift for that elusive needle. This is the complex tale of the quest, told through the eyes of the principle agent that put the ghostly pieces of the puzzle together and ultimately deduced bin Laden’s hideout. This agent is a woman, and Director Kathryn Bigelow says the lead character in her movie is based (I can’t say how loosely) upon the actual unidentified person.
ZDT is both an action movie and a detective story. But at its core it’s a human drama, and what I take away is the desperate passion of the hunt. The principle players on both sides are dedicated to their respective causes; this isn’t about money or fame or power. The world is changed and mountains are moved for good or ill by driven people; the rest are just tourists. I come out of ZDT energized and focused, having been reminded of the spirit that animates us.
Forget the politics. The film isn’t about the triumphs and mistakes of politicians; it’s about the triumphs and mistakes of the boots on the ground. Like The Hurt Locker before it, Kathryn Bigelow pulls us into the lives of the people who are in this thing, and will live or die to push this thing through to its endgame. That’s what it’s all about, and I think we all know this; not our glorious or inglorious leaders who give the orders, but the human beings that come together to get it done.
See it. And leave your political agenda at the door, or you’ll miss the point.
Rated R for intense violence, I think this film is suitable for youngsters that understand the good and evil forces of the world, and grasp the notion that good must stand against evil.
Update: Seems that John McCain didn’t follow my advice, and brought his political agenda to the film. “John McCain Accuses ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ of Being ‘Misleading’”. If this article accurately reflects McCain’s comments, then McCain was so focused on his agenda that he missed the story. Anyway, perhaps any doubters out there will be swayed by the claim that McCain was troubled by the depiction of interrogation.