Plot: The story of how the CIA found and ultimately killed Osama Bin Ladin.
Review: Don’t be tricked by the trailers, this isn’t really the story of Seal Team Six or an action movie. What is it is a thriller about all the trials and time it took to take down one of the biggest terrorists in the world. The whole movie is from the view point of Maya, a CIA agent played by Jessica Chastain, as she tries for ten years to locate Bin Laden. Her search begins as just another assignment but turns into an obsession and as one character puts it later in the film, “What else have you done? Do you have friends?” The sacrifices are full on display as Maya becomes more isolated and the toll of hunting terrorists takes her colleagues. Some are killed while others are just burned out to the point of retirement. Even Maya starts off fresh and is broken down. One of the best scenes is with Kyle Chandler, playing one of Maya’s bosses, as he explains to her that capturing Bin Laden isn’t even that important now that he is hiding in a hole. But as Americans, we do know how important it was so we stick to Maya’s side. There is also the effects of torture and director Kathryn Bigelow makes the scenes dark which has come with controversy. The thing is that Bigelow is not taking sides, she shows the torture objectively, stated as a fact, and that makes it show much harder to watch. These things happened and as much as politicians want to push it under the rug, it doesn’t change the facts. So I applaud Bigelow for taking that chance. There are no sides to take in this story even as we cross over two presidents and policy changes. There is only Maya. Maya who has to wait for her superiors to weave around policies and “risk-management” to get things done, even when they know it for a fact. Maya who watches her friends die or leave her. No one wants to be holding the “leash” if it goes wrong. In Maya, there is the best and worst part of the films. If there are any problems, it’s that we follow Maya too much. Jessica Chastain turns in a great performance worthy of an Oscar and putting her in the ranks of great heroes like Ellen Ripley and John Rambo; she shares qualities of both. Finally, you get to see why Hollywood has fallen in love with Chastain and I look forward to what she does next. But we never see anyone else or dig into their lives. It may be true but it rang false to me that Maya single handedly found Bin Laden herself. It’s all her and no one else ever has any characterization other than how they relate to her. This worked so well in the Hurt Locker, but since this is a true story I wish we had spent some time with some of the other real characters. Especially Mark Strong’s director as he is strong and surprises in the few scenes he has. It’s not the worst problem to have and once the seals come in, we see more of the work of others. When Seal Team Six does come in, it does become exciting. In fact, the siege of Bin Laden’s bunker is one of the most thrilling, action packed sequences that I have seen all year. Once again there is a certain respect. Chris Pratt, the funny Andy on Parks and Rec, shows up here looking buff as we have never seen him before. He was one of my favorite characters and it is strange and fun to see Pratt so strong and big. He can carry any action film. We never see Bin Laden’s face clear as Bigelow always obscures it. I found this one of the best choices of the film. Bigelow isn’t here to glorify his death but to show the story of the costs and sacrifices that people made to protect America. Every performance is amazing and Bigelow knows how to frame a shot. Every scene looks better than the last but I always found myself wanting more. I did enjoy myself and want to watch it again. It may not be the best film of the year but it is one worth watch.
Trivia: “0 dark 30” is a term commonly used by the military to refer to a non specific time when it is dark outside, either very late or very early.