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Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film, recreates Osama Bin Laden’s ten-year manhunt. We watch CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) defy her superiors and give up sleep in her obsessive quest to pin down Bin Laden’s whereabouts. This mission involves espionage in Pakistan, satellite surveillance, phone tapping””and torture. Although we all know how this story ends, Zero Dark Thirty emphasizes the stress and and fear which haunted those involved in killing Osama Bin Laden.

Keyword: stress. Like Hurt Locker , Bigelow’s last war film, Zero Dark Thirty engages viewers’ bodies as much as their eyes. Set mostly in Pakistan, the film makes you feel as though you’re there with Maya and just as paranoid. Suicide bomb explosions and confrontations with locals in the street””these awful moments happen suddenly and violently. I jumped more than once. The opening scene gives us an extended visual lesson in torture: water boarding, sleep deprivation, humiliation. As a newcomer, Maya watches the torture with us, obviously uncomfortable. By the end of Zero Dark Thirty , though, she’s seen it all””including Bin Laden’s dead body.

Zero Dark Thirty made me feel uneasy. Lots of movies, horror or thriller, are meant to do just that. But Bigelow’s latest film hits so much closer to home. The turn around on Bin Laden’s slaying, from the real event to the feature film, was incredibly fast. This is no biopic or thriller. It’s like a mirror to a scary present reality””almost like a documentary. Bin Laden’s death gives no closure, because we know that the hostility embedded in the movie still exists.

Is Zero Dark Thirty Opening Weekend Worthy?

To enter the world of Zero dark Thirty is to feel paranoid, afraid and as shell-shocked as a moviegoer can get. While that means effective storytelling, I’m not sure I would wish this upon others.

Zero Dark Thirty trailer

Zero Dark Thirty Production Gallery