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By MARK TURNER
It's hard to believe that there is a young generation out there that didn't experience 9/11 first-hand. For those of us who lived through it, it doesn't seem all that long ago. So this generation can't quite grasp the importance of Osama Bin Laden's death.
Still, two movies came out last year with that subject at their core. One seemed little more than a promotional piece for President Obama during an election year (going so far as to include an ill-timed comment by Mitt Romney who had nothing to do with the subject matter) showing almost as much of him as the SEAL team that took Bin Laden out. The other was nominated for best picture and nearly won.
ZERO DARK THIRTY was noted for taking a few dramatic liberties (such as the main character actually being a composite of several main players in what unfolded) but that doesn't detract from the story being told. Jessica Chastain stars as Maya, a young CIA agent on her first time in the Middle East as the film opens. She's there during an interrogation and sees first hand how brutal it can be. While she shies away from it she stays silent.
The film moves quickly from place to place, time to time through the career of Maya. She doggedly pursues any lead that could find Bin Laden. One possible lead is a courier for messages he sends out but that falls to the wayside when he apparently is killed. It's not until later in the film that she learns he came from a family with 8 brothers and it was one of them killed not the man she was searching for.
Through her career we see how things change. Her passive nature turns to a desire to catch and kill her prey. When a friend is killed in a car bombing Maya becomes even more determined. Add to that a machine gun attack on her and she won't let anyone stand in her way, not even her immediate supervisors. Maya's in your face attitude may not win her a large number of friends but it does earn her respect.
No, this isn't a spoiler since we know the outcome of this story. Eventually a possible site for Bin Laden is found. When a table full of bureaucrats is asked if this is a 100 percent surety that Bin Laden is there they each take a turn hem hawing around with smaller percentages in mind. Only Maya has the courage to say this is as close to 100$ as they are likely to ever be.
Given the go-ahead the last 30 minutes or so of the film deals with the SEAL team that was sent in to capture or kill Bin Laden. While the film to this point, nearly 2 hours, dealt with what it took to find him, this 30 minutes is shown from a tactical standpoint where we see the team organize then put into action the plan to take him out in action.
The thing that stands out about this film is that it seems more matter of fact than most movies made. There is no John Wayne type motivating and leading a group into the battle field. This is more what the situation was like, plain and simple. The only bad thing about that is that it plays out kind of bland.
Perhaps we're all still too close to the situation than we'd like to admit. Perhaps the wounds are still too exposed. Perhaps the death of Bin Laden was too quick and sudden to accept. While the story is an important one and this film does give credit where credit was due, it's still a bit slow-paced and realistic to be considered entertainment.
A good movie technically yes, but for enjoyment I'm not so sure. Whether you watch this film will be determined by your outlook on the situation. Yes it is a good movie, but go in knowing what to expect.
Past Digital Views reviews, other current reviews and more can be found online at http://dvddigitalviews.blogspot.com