Zero Dark Thirty

First Hit:  An impactful, single focus, no nonsense story about how Osama bin Laden was killed.

This film is about one subject and one subject only – the finding and killing of Osama bin Laden (OBL).

There are no real subplots in this film which meant that we follow one storyline from beginning to end. To do this, the writing, characters and acting have to be clear, focused and crisp. This film does all this in spades.

We follow Maya (played by Jessica Chastain) from when she arrives in Afghanistan, about 10 years of interviewing, analyzing, and searching until she identifies and verifies, to the US Government, that OBL as dead. The in office Presidents are heard on occasion in the background but only as place markers in time and to spout policy and precedents.

We join her as she gets her first indoctrination into the torturing of prisoners to get information. Then we follow her as she digs up small leads and puts pieces of the puzzle together and with her unqualified belief, she finds OBL’s hiding place. There have been questions about the showing of torture and even more questions about if the US Government tortures people.

Nothing I saw on film is beyond the ability of our government. I know our government likes to think we treat prisoners fairly, but frankly I don’t believe it. Although I never saw waterboarding, I’ve seen some pretty terrible treatment of the enemy while in Vietnam and I’m sure it is worse today.

Chastain is sublime in her role. There is nothing else in her mind except finding Osama bin Laden. Although her face is extraordinarily beautiful she doesn’t draw attention to her beauty. All the audience focuses on is her driven single-mindedness and the story. Jason Clarke plays Dan her boss when she first gets this job, and he is outstanding in intensity and drive. Mark Boal wrote a great screenplay. Kathryn Bigelow’s direction was amazing and easily on par with her Oscar direction of “The Hurt Locker”.

Overall: Amazingly detailed film with a single focus.