Luckily, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal - who previously teamed up for 2009's terrific Best Picture Oscar winner The Hurt Locker - have made a film that is not so easily pigeonholed into being any kind of political statement. The film details the events that lead to bin Laden's death, from the perspective of Maya (Jessica Chastain), a CIA agent who gives her life over to hunting down the al-Qaeda leader. She becomes obsessed with finding courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, whom she believes will lead directly to bin Laden. Over the years she becomes more and more at ease with eliciting information, but at what cost to herself?
However, what really makes the film spectacular is that it also functions as a character study. Throughout the film we see how the manhunt takes it's toll on those involved: especially Maya, who over the course of the film becomes increasingly comfortable with the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on detainees for information. Chastain is incredible in the role, as is Jason Clarke as her mentor in the field; he's the cautionary tale that Maya fails to take heed of.
Zero Dark Thirty is a terrific film that presents a complex and at times unflattering picture of the War on Terror. It's a film that exposes the scars and dirty laundry that went into finding (and killing) Osama bin Laden. A