The Thrilling Manhunt of Zero Dark Thirty

Darkness on the edge of town

When the raid finally comes, it's almost an anticlimax, not because we know bin Laden will be there, but because even if we didn't, Maya's unshakable faith would by now have us convinced. Still, the sequence reconfirms Bigelow as a master of high-tech action, from the modified Black Hawk helicopters slicing silently through the Abbottabad skies to the precisely choreographed storming of the compound itself—all of it captured in a mixture of night vision and pellucid HD videography by cameraman Greig Fraser. Bigelow and Boal don't overly heroicize the mission—no literal or figurative flag-waving, no panting orchestral score—in part because they take the heroism to be self-evident and in part because they marvel at the smooth professionalism of the SEALs, who manage to bag bin Laden swiftly and with a minimum of collateral damage, as if it really were just another day at the office. It's only a few scenes later that Zero Dark Thirty reaches its true emotional peak, when Maya, framed in medium close-up, does something we haven't seen her do for the past two and a half hours. She exhales.

Details

Zero Dark Thirty
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Columbia
Opens December 19

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