"Zero Dark Thirty," an Oscar picture nominee and an American Film Institute movie of the year, is an intense cinema-going experience.
"Zero Dark Thirty" is nothing less than an account of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon and bin Laden's killing by United States Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011.
Director Kathryn Bigelow apparently had access to classified information. That access, in itself, has caused controversy to swirl around "Zero Dark Thirty," one of those feature movies that has leaped from the media's movie review pages to the front pages to Congress.
One of the more damaging allegations against Bigelow is that her access to classified United States' government information about the mission and the film's representation of what is euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation techniques" in helping to obtain crucial information from captured terrorists has compromised her objectivity as a film-maker.
While you and I may never know all of the facts behind the mission of "Zero Dark Thirty," with the title referring to the military term for 12:30 a.m., believed to be the start of the Team 6 raid, Bigelow has directed an extraordinary piece of cinema, which is not unlike that of a documentary in its depiction of what seems to be an insider's view of the "trade craft" during an important chapter in American history.
The first hour of "Zero Dark Thirty" is torture, literally and figuratively. The movie-goer is taken to several "Black Sites" in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. While the torture scenes are not as graphic as, say, that of a horror film, they are horrific in their detail and may make you squirm in your seat. There's almost a sense of "The Silence of the Lambs" to some of the scenes.
The middle portion of "Zero Dark Thirty" has to do with the CIA and other government agencies, entities and officials, including those in the administrations of President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush (with, for example, James Gandolfini portraying an unnamed CIA director) and their handling of the hunt for Bin Laden. This is TV's "West Wing" taken to new depths and heights, except it purports to be reality.
The final portion of "Zero Dark Thirty" depicts the tracking of couriers, the locating of the Bin Laden fortress in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and the raid, capture and killing there of Bin Laden. These scenes are very dark and green in color, filmed as though seen through the night-vision equipment the soldiers are wearing. The sense here is that of the "Mortal Kombat" video game.
While one can't vouch for the factual accuracy,