A post by Maynard

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.

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12 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. deaves1 says:

    OK, if Maynard says I need to watch it. I will. I enjoyed the Hurt Locker, I’m sure this will be as equally interesting.

  2. rosebud2186 says:

    If this is the film supported by the White House – no thanks Maynard. I love a few people wearing those “boots on the ground” & I firmly believe that ANY information about this & any war effort should be kept out of the mainstream until after all our loved ones are home. I think Obama & his administration are treasonous for having given ANY information to ANY media outlet. Let’s not forget what happened to Seal Team 6 after Obama’s boastful announcement of Bin Laden’s death. From my heart & my gut: making this film at this time was wrong.

  3. strider says:

    Who’s the lead character in the Bengazi incident?

  4. GarboSpeaks says:

    I look forward to seeing this film!

    I know a lot of people were skeptical that the film would be fair and balanced, but having seen “The Hurt Locker” and having read an interview Kathryn Bigelow gave about ZDT some months ago, I was hopeful that it would not be a political film.

    Judging from the reviews I have read so far, it sounds like it’s exactly the kind of film I was hoping Bigelow would make.

    I know Kathryn Bigelow is a Democrat and is probably at least somewhat anti-war, but I was impressed that she resisted turning “The Hurt Locker” into a political film, and it seems she’s done a good job with ZDT as well.

    From what I’ve read, Obama is hardly mentioned, and of the one small news clip that they show of him sort of paints him in a negative light, at least it makes him look a little idiotic under the context.

    The female CIA agent intrigues me. I have read the book “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen, and he confirms the existence of this CIA woman. In the book he calls her “Jen”, and in the film they call her “Maya”.

    I know the WH gave access to the filmmakers, but I don’t think this is the film they were hoping for.

    • Maynard says:

      I wouldn’t look at it in terms of being fair and balanced; it’s more a choice to tell a powerful story rather than convey an agenda — even an agenda of “fairness”. And that’s what draws me to a film: Human drama and conflict that rings true, not a lecture or a message.

      I could cite ZDT in advocacy of my politics, but I wouldn’t feel right about doing so, because it would cheapen the thing. Sort of like abandoning love in favor of lust, if you know what I mean.

      • GarboSpeaks says:

        Yes, I meant to say the film didn’t try to have a political agenda. I like the fact that the focus is all on the decade of efforts by the CIA and the people on the ground, and none on the politicians.

        Should Kathryn Bigelow get another Oscar?

  5. radargeek says:

    So, I guess it won’t show our bedwetter-in-chief’s nanny Valerie Jarrett no-going nabbing o’sorry month’s earlier then…

  6. Cathode Rays says:

    I saw McCain on TV (naturally) flapping on about “torture” and this movie yesterday. It made me angry. McCain no doubt is haunted by memories of Vietnam, but his reasoning is flawed. The SEALs (and I think Special Forces) go through it as part of a training exercise.

    McCain shows up to pour salt in the wound regularly. Talk about torture.

    • Maynard says:

      That article makes two specific points, and they’re both stupid.

      Point 1: That the film took dramatic license in turning historical events into a story, and put excessive emphasis on the accomplishments of a single individual. I take it for granted that the details of the film diverge from reality, in part out of the need to tell a good story, and in part because the details aren’t disclosed. In a film like this, as with any film purporting to depict a historical event, I never come out with confidence of knowing the details because “I saw it happen!” Dramatization is inevitable. But I don’t see a challenge to the general framework of this story. I think it’s fair to say the general course of events is broadly accurate, and conveys a broadly appropriate impression. Unlike, say, Obama’s explanation of what happened in Benghazi.

      Point 2: Enhanced interrogation. This is our leaders wetting their pants to show how politically correct they are. Anyone that sees the film will know how ridiculous this claim is. I didn’t speak of these details because I didn’t want to spoil anything. Let the film tell it’s own story, that’s the way I want it to happen. But since we’re discussing it, I’ll say this: What the film does NOT show is a character being harshly treated and immediately spilling his guts. Yes, there is some harsh interrogation, and it is clearly depicted as part of a greater process, and there is plenty of room for interpretation as to how vital a part of the process it was.

      So, in sum, anyone with a brain in their head who actually sees this film will see that the gripes we’re hearing from the government are deceitful. Which seems to be par for the course these days.

  7. wilde1 says:

    The movie has a Golden Globe nomination for Best Movie. It will be interesting to see if the foreign press would vote for it. Bigelow is impressive. Cleaning this weekend, I found an old issue of Architectural Digest from 1998 when she just built her house after divorce from husband. She had directed a couple films at that point. Fabulous taste and location of house. Because of her good eye, I believe she is able to be a good director.

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