Zero Dark Thirty

Rated 4.0

Unavoidably the movie of the year, Kathryn Bigelow's controversial quasi-journalistic thriller, dramatized from original reporting by screenwriter Mark Boal, surveys the decade-long quest to bring down Osama bin Laden. A taut procedural spun from the point of view of Jessica Chastain's lone wolf CIA analyst, the film seems temperamentally more tenacious than triumphalist, and maybe therefore also as lucid an elaboration of the “war on terror” as we can ever hope to get from Hollywood. But has anyone asked why we should ever hope to get such a thing from Hollywood? Neither the Obama re-election commercial nor the torture apologia some blowhards feared it would be, Zero Dark Thirty certainly captures the cultural legacy of 9/11 and reveals the euphemized brutalities of recent American foreign policy. It's also a superb example of contemporary political-thriller vernacular, all the way through to its methodical and disturbingly amazing night-vision climax. If this endorses anything, it's the opportunism of movies.