“I’m going to die, aren’t I?”
As clips of 9/11 victims are played, the bone-chilling opening of “Zero Dark Thirty,” a gripping military suspense thriller, promises an intense movie.
The story follows a CIA intelligence analyst named “Maya” (Jessica Chastain), who is thrown into the search for bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. She is an intense and gifted investigator and soon earns the respect of her colleagues through her relentless and intuitive pursuit of her target.
After 10 years, looking for bin Laden has become an obsession, but Maya believes she has finally uncovered him and looks to her superiors to approve the mission to capture him.
A special forces team is sent to the safe house compound. They enter the house to find bin Laden and his family living with three other families, just as Maya predicted.
Chastain is convincing as the obsessed intelligence investigator. Her unrelenting portrayal of the pursuit for bin Laden and her silence in the CIA torture chambers help show Maya as a strong, three-dimensional character.
Although “Zero Dark Thirty” is classified as a military thriller, the majority of the movie is focused around the office drama that the characters experience throughout the movie. The action arrives at the end of the movie when a helicopter crashes, troops search the house, bin Laden is killed and bombs are set to explode. Even this serious moment is lightened by the playful banter among the special forces unit assigned to the mission as they keep themselves levelheaded by making jokes about their mission.
Director Kathryn Bigelow takes a realistic approach to her characters and her story line. Intelligence work is not always glamorous, and Maya is a believable character. She wears down and becomes agitated when her work is ignored. Even though torture is difficult for her to deal with at first, she refuses to help a detainee and advises that he tell what he knows. She fights to be noticed and believed by her superiors, and this persistance pays off in the end.
Although not the action-packed thriller some hoped for, “Zero Dark Thirty”is strong. With Bigelow’s focus on the facts and realistic storyline, it is an interesting and convincing film.
Four out of five stars