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Old 02-10-2013, 01:30 AM   #14
Phoenix
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I saw Zero Dark Thirty last night.

I guess the challenge with this type of movie is to entertain the moviegoer when the general plot and its end are widely known.

The movie concentrated heavily on perhaps the lesser known activities of the post 2001 hunt for Osama bin Laden (OBL). The now controversial interrogation techniques used by the CIA, waterboarding, humiliation strategies, including the use of the Abu Ghraib style 'dog collar'. The extensive use of CIA 'Black Sites' around the world and other nasties.

I found this an interesting perspective from an American produced movie. Too often in American made movies, they're portraying themselves as the 'good guys', no matter the situation.
In 'Zero Dark Thirty', the early interrogation scenes by CIA operative 'Dan' are pure evil...too often in modern US cinema, this type of scene is reserved for the villians who are seldom Americans but nearly always some Eastern block communist, or similar.
The tortured captive 'Ammar' pleads to 'Maya' (central CIA character played by Jessica Chastain) to spare him from the "animal" 'Dan' (who runs the CIA's interrogation program, played by Jason Clarke)

These interrogation scenes are a large part of the movie and it's here that we see the evolution of the 'Maya' character as she becomes increasingly desensitized to the interrogation process and develops a single minded focus in her 'personal' crusade to get OBL
In the process we witness the dramatic setbacks of poor intelligence, mistaken intelligence, the hurdles of an American political sytem to overcome, the dark shadow of the Iraq WMD fiasco in granting approval for the OBL compound raid and the negating activities of the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence).

The actual OBL raid was a relatively small part of the movie but it was done fairly well, largely filmed in a ghostly green, to give the viewer the impression of what the raiding SEAL team were seeing through their night vision goggles.

My criticism of this scene relates to the logisitics of the raid, in the movie it was portrayed as a raid by the 2 stealth helicopters (and crews) alone.
From the several books that I've read about the raid, the force was much larger, along with the 2 stealth choppers and their crews, apparently the Americans had another 2 chinook helicopters in the region with full compliments of heavily armed forces to provide added security to the raiding party in the event of Pakistani military intervention, as well as extra CIA operatives on the ground to keep any interested onlookers away.
Also, this period of American counter terrorism has been labelled - "counter terrorism on an industrial level".
In books written by Chris Martin ('Beyond Neptune Spear' & 'Shaping the World From the Shadows'). It is alleged that on the night of the OBL raid another dozen or so operations were also carried out by other US special forces elements as part of the wider hunt for OBL. This apect was not mentioned in the movie.
Other sources suggest that there were a myriad of US air assets in the sky above the compound providing jamming of pakistani radar and providing a real time video link back to US command and the President himself.

It was good to see James Gandolfini (Soprano's fame) as CIA head Panetta on the big screen.
Harrold Perrineau, for the Sons of Anarchy fans out there (Damon Pope) plays a smallish role as a CIA team member.
Joel Edgerton plays the role of a SEAL leader but it's a pretty small role.

Overall, not too bad...A little bit too long for me at around 157mins.
Some of the characters, particularly 'Maya' are apparently a composite of several real life CIA (female) operatives that were involved in the long hunt for OBL, even in the book written by one of the SEAL's that raided the compound, 'No Easy Day' he talks about a female CIA operative that was there on the day of the raid and who was absolutely convinced that OBL was in the compound. Interestingly, the 'Maya' character is the only one prepared to give a 100% chance that OBL is in the compound, the other CIA 'experts' were only 60% confident in their intelligence at the briefing with Panetta in the movie.
Pretty close to most media reports since 2001 and having several details that were mentioned in 'No Easy Day' as well as other sources written about the raid itself, CIA involvement and elements of close quarter battle techniques.

I went with my partner, she enjoyed it and it served as a 'fill in the gaps' exercise for her, between the terror of Sept.11 to the news that OBL was finally killed.
The audience at our screening was very diverse in both gender and age, so I think it's a movie open to all and should not be confused with a plain ol' shoot 'em up movie.

I give it 1/2 out of 5

Last edited by Phoenix; 02-10-2013 at 03:00 AM.
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