Zero Dark Thirty: A thrilling yet chilling ride

Maddie Lemelin, Features/Arts Director

I walked into the theatre expecting Zero Dark Thirty to live up to the hype, but it exceeded all praise. The movie grabbed my attention from the very beginning and kept me at the edge of my seat until the moment it ended.
Zero Dark Thirty takes viewers back to the horrific events of September 11, 2001, and explores the aftermath that was concealed from the public. The film opens with several torture scenes which are, admittedly, difficult to watch and immediately made me understand the controversy that circled the film. Zero Dark Thirty centers around Maya (Jessica Chastain), an agent who ends up devoting her life over the course of several years to capturing Bin Laden.
Jessica Chastain, who gives a stellar performance as Maya, was rightly nominated for best actress. She makes the movie the gem that it is. I cringed, I cried, I laughed, I gasped and I feared, all because of her performance…well, her and the excessive number of explosions. I couldn’t help but feel her characters passion and intensity. It brought me into the movie and gave me a sense of the gravity of the events. After the tragedy of 9/11, most Americans were able to pick up their lives and move on, but for a select military group, finding Bin Laden became their life and purpose. This movie and Chastain reminds us of the struggle and sacrifices of those individuals.
However, the draw of this movie doesn’t come from the superb acting or the excellent cinematography but rather the controversy and debate that surrounds it, including the use of water-boarding to obtain information. Some critics argue that the film wrongly justifies torture. The screen writer, Mark Boal, has said that he wrote the scene to “show the brutality and inhumanity of the situation.” Others say that the torture was necessary in order to obtain the information during the manhunt. But, as this was a top secret mission to hunt down a foreign threat, the exact events and potential justifications of the search for Bin Laden probably won’t be revealed in our lifetime.
Controversy aside, this is a great film that everyone needs to see. We all need to be aware of just how much our military does to protect our country.