Zero Dark Thirty 2012 (R)

That’s 12:30 A. M. in military jargon.  The time of night the raid took place on Osama bin Laden’s compound.  Can you imagine what it must have been like to be there to see vengeance taken upon one of the most dangerous villains in modern history?  This movie tries to do just that.  For once, Hollywood allows itself to make a movie where the military is portrayed in a positive light.  Even among the most ardent pacifists, it is pretty hard to find someone that feels that Bin Laden didn’t have it coming to him.  In the rarest of occurrences, Movieland actually embraces the military and intelligence community in this film and calls them heroes.  No baby killers, no secret government conspiracies, no predictably preachy messages about the evils of the military-industrial complex, or Bush bashing in this movie.  Impressively, the compound in which the mastermind of 9/11 lived was recreated in exact detail for this film.  It makes one wonder what became of the location after the conclusion of filming.  Will it become some sort of tourist attraction in itself?  The cast trained with former Navy seals and weapons experts to increase the film’s authenticity. 

As far as the plot goes, there is a bit too much time spent on the intelligence gathering and not enough on the action scenes for my taste.  It would have been nice to see more scenes about the Seal team’s training. There were also some key details left out of the movie such as the fact that Bin Laden was shot in the left eye, and that one of the taller soldiers laid down next to the body to confirm that it was indeed Bin Laden since he was known to be very tall.  Also, the body was confirmed to be Bin Laden’s on a Navy ship by doctors using DNA from his family members.  Bin Laden’s burial at sea is also omitted. 

The film does have some inaccuracies as well.  In actuality, the real Seal Team did not know the identity of their target until the last minute.  The female CIA agent, who is the main character, is portrayed by an actress with pale skin and bright red hair.  It seems like an operative like this would stick out like a sore thumb in Pakistan where most people have dark hair and complexions.  Secondly, the interrogators use a lot of profanity, slang and American idioms with the detainees.  I would think that this would make them very hard to understand and would have impeded the progress of gaining useful leads from the prisoners.  The cast members consistently mispronounce Peshawar, Pakistan.  The film attempts to depict waterboarding, but there is no board shown in the scenes!  It is readily apparent that some of the scenes were shot in India, not Pakistan due to the signage on the streets, costumes, monuments, etc.  There is a scene in a bar in Kuwait with women in revealing Western-style dresses.  This is pretty unlikely in a strict Muslim society. During the raid, the power lines were cut in the vicinity of the compound, so no one would be turning on lights to see what was going on.  Finally, Navy seals do not wear beards.

The film is free from sexual content, but does have some pretty graphic violence.  It has overindulgence in the F-word, which can be quite annoying and distracting at times.  It is unlikely that government professionals would use profanity so profusely and casually while on the job, especially when addressing their superiors.  It is of limited use for students because of its length, language and violence.  Perhaps it would be best to show only the actual raid on the compound.  Even if you did this, the film would need parental warnings and a lot of background information would have to be given to students to provide the historical context of the story.

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