A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.
Jessica Chastain Through the Years
Once we came back we were so involved with the story of the raid that we had to see Zero Dark Thirty (for the 2nd time for me, 1st for them). The killing of UBL is meticulously reconstructed, but only covers the last 30 minutes of the movie. Most of the story involves a CIA semi-fictional agent who by sheer determination and luck convinces the Agency that Bin Laden can be reached, and that they have a good idea of what men is the key to his whereabouts: Ibrahim Sayed, AKA Abu Ahmed Al-Kuwaiti. Information from detainees suggests Sayed is UBL's courier. Our hero figures that, wherever in Central Asia UBL is, the one thing he is sure to have is a courier. Track him, you get the big Kahuna.
The Agency is initially unlucky to believe erroneous intelligence saying Sayed is dead. And then they are lucky to find out he is not dead. With a lot of push from our hero, they allot the resources to find him. It is no easy task. That's my favorite part of the movie. Surveillance technology can find out from where he is calling his family (busy districts in the Punjab), but it is a lot more tricky to follow him in the middle of the crowd to the place where he lives.
After tracking Sayed to a VERY suspicious compound in a city the CIA never expected Bin Laden to be, it is time to decide if this is really UBL's residence. But the mysterious inhabitant never shows his face. I don't think he was hiding from CIA cameras, he just knows he is so recognizable. So the decision is left to the higher-ups, to bomb the place, raid it, or just keep waiting for more definitive intel.
And that is the part where the Director has to make a dramatic decision. Does she show the President and his top aides deliberating? I think putting Obama, Clinton and Biden in the movie would suck all the air out of the room to the detriment of the focus on the field agents. Leon Panneta shows up, but he is not even named. The final act wrote itself, because it is a documentary-like recreation of the raid.
Some reviewers pointed glaring mistakes: the Pakistanis seem to be speaking Arabic instead of Urdu. One part I had to laugh was when a mob stood outside the American Embassy in Islamabad. If you have been there, or anywhere in the diplomatic compound, you know it would never happen.
It is hard to make suspenseful a story that unfolds throughout 10 years and involves meticulous collection of intelligence and a lot of false starts. So the movie may feel like a "boring procedural" for people who are expecting normal Hollywood fare. In order to add a personal touch to the main character, she has a fried killed in a highly implausible scene. Otherwise, Maya just remains a stock character you have to fill in the gaps: lonely woman married to her job, always having to prove herself, obsessed with a task her superiors don't want to give priority.
Some people pointed out to a big lie of the movie: that torture gave crucial information. I'd point out that it is just a half-lie. Yes, nobody gave useful intel for the killing of UBL under torture. However, keeping terror suspects for years under dubious legal status (say with me - Guantanamo!) paid dividends.
- Oct 9, 2017