We haven’t really gotten the definitive 9/11 movie yet. World Trade Center was a passable disaster drama focusing on one aspect (two firefighters trapped in the collapse of the World Trade Center). And United 93 was an exceptional dramatization of another (the plane that the passengers brought down in Pennsylvania). But the central story of 9/11 isn’t melodrama and sacrifice. It’s that there were people who wanted to rain devastation on America, and did so.
It took years for the principal architect of 9/11 to get his comeuppance, and that’s the point of Zero Dark Thirty. The central character is Maya (Jessica Chastain), a CIA analyst who spends a decade trying to track down Osama bin Laden. This film charts that journey, the questionable interrogations, the explosive repercussions, the political shenanigans, all of it leading to, finally, the sequence wherein Seal Team Six does their thing.
This isn’t a rah-rah patriotic film, like Pearl Harbor or, you know, almost any other film about World War II. And it’s hard to imagine it being so. The dangers from terrorism have faded, but they haven’t disappeared. And it’s hard to cheer for an ending do mundane (yet chilling and edge of your seat, even for that).
Zero Dark Thirty isn’t a seminal film, but it’s a dramatic and engaging snapshot of the nature of national security in the new millennium.
Jessica Chastain was in Zero Dark Thirty with Jason Clarke. Jason Clarke was in…