Zero Dark Thirty

Maya is highly smart she gets recruited into the CIA right after high school. For 12 long years, almost her entire career in the CIA, she focuses with ferocity on the hunt to find Osama Bin Laden. Played with fierceness by Jessica Chastain, this becomes the center of Katherine Bigelow 153-minute taut, tight, and thrilling movie.

The attack on the compound where OBL lived and his death is covered only in the last half hour of the film. We see on the 2 hours that came before Al Qaeda prisoners getting tortured, breaking down and providing important information. We see the attacks on CIA operatives outside their homes, in hotel restaurants, and most shockingly inside a closely-guarded camp.

Amidst all these, Maya zeroes in on Abu Ahmed Al-kuwaiti, said to be Bin Laden’s most trusted courier, as the key to finding the mastermind of the terror attacks in the US. She believes it to her core even though most of her colleagues and superiors think otherwise. She encounters dead-ends on her investigation and her hunt to find the courier remains dormant for years. Until a colleague shows her a file on Abu Ahmed. She then cajoles and bullies and blackmails superiors to get the technical support she wants.

Chastain always has this troubled look on her face in her previous movies (The Help, Coriolanus). Towards the end of the film, after spending more than a decade of her life hunting for Bin Laden, we see this same look but with confidence and fierceness. When she says “I am the motherfucker who found him (Abu Ahmed)” to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (James Gandolfini), we believe she has spunk and is not easily cowed down by big men, both literally and figuratively.

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