Review – Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty cover


Zero Dark Thirty broke a lot of personal barriers for me. Rare is the time I will plunk down $10 or more to see a movie in the theater. Even rarer is the time I walk out feeling I got my money’s worth.

This movie delivers on all counts!

Definitely try to see it in a theater. Hopefully some of the discount theaters will bring Zero Dark Thirty back once or twice per year because you really do benefit from the full theater sound system and massive screen experience.

I have watched Zero Dark Thirty several times on DVD. The story and content are extremely important, but on DVD you, perhaps just I, lose that sense of fear. The first time something bad happens and the sound system rips through your chest, your heart responds and you are right there in the thick of it with them. I, like most, don’t have such a sound system at home, if I did I would probably be deaf or have a home which no longer had things made of glass.

Forget about all of the news and brew-ha-ha in the press. What each and everyone of those stories overlooks, and this one spells out rather plainly, is just how many people the CIA lost tracking UBL. It is quite a compelling docudrama.

The Looming Tower

The Looming Tower cover

To really get the full benefit and impact of the movie you need to read “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright. This is one of the most detailed and well research works of journalism about the creation of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda I have ever read. This is not just text, but photo journalism. I have loaned my copy to many people. When I got to the well documented part about Bill Clinton completely botching a hit on Osama, hiring amateurs who shot up his office while he (Osama) was, quite literally, drinking coffee at a cafe` across the street watching them do it I was so infuriated. It still honks me off to this day. This hit was long before September 11 by the way. When you consider just how many died because of that screw up you can only be deeply and morally offended.

Zero Dark Thirty really drives home just how many civilians, military and CIA agents died in the hunt which went on long after “Mission Accomplished” banners had flow high.

Bush Mission Accomplished speech

Sealing the Deal

They seal the deal with a little snippet of dialog from the script. I have prettied it up for you.

How long have you worked for the CIA?

Twelve years. I was recruited out
of high school.

Do you know why we did that?

I don’t think I can answer that
question, sir. I don’t think I’m
allowed to answer.

What else have you done for us besides
bin Laden?

Nothing. I’ve done nothing else.

Maya spent quite literally her entire CIA career hunting one man. Not only that, they were the best years of anyone’s life. Come on, the first 12 years out of high school. You are supposed to be partying with friends, sowing wild oats, and breaking hearts. She spent it trying to find and kill one man. Few have such a commitment to patriotism.

Best seen in theater

To get the full impact of the movie, first read the recommended book, then find a local theater willing to run the movie on a slow night as a special event. If you can’t swing that, make friends with someone who has an over the top movie theater sound system in their home theater so you can feel the fear and fully sense the danger these people lived with daily for more than a decade. Well, the ones which made it to the end anyway.

I highly recommend this film.

For more movie rental ideas please see list one and list two.