Today I watched Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
September 9/11 was the most successful terrorist attack in history, not because of the death toll, but because it made America into the best recruitment tool for those organizations. Following this attack the American government decided to get into the terror game themselves, with a campaign of civilian bombing and torture, as evidence in the opening scene of this film. Jessica Chastain plays Maya, a C.I.A. operative whose entire career is focused on finding Osama Bin Laden and she goes about this hunt primarily through looking at information acquired via torture. The film follows her and her mission across many years, from 2003 to the raid on Bin Laden’s compound in 2011; the mission is often presented as looking for a needle in a haystack with the frustration of it having as much strain on Maya as the many instances of torture she is a party too.
This film deals with some very morally ambiguous subject matter and asks the question of whether the ends justify the means. Well let me say, the ends of this mission are revenge, which is not a moral goal. So no, the means as shown in this movie, are not justified by rather unjustifiable ends. Some people might call this justice, I don’t think invading another country, occupying it, murdering it’s innocent citizens and torturing them makes them the bad guy. This film certainly presents the means in which American vengeance is meted out as being pretty disturbing, but it never touches the sacred cow that is the immoral ends they are working towards.
Movies like this actually make me pretty angry because of how much disdain I have for the American government and their warmongering ways, they are the real terrorists if you ask me. What you are watching in this film, is the American government spending billions of dollars not to improve their woeful social systems and infrastructure, but to kill people on the other side of the world and for what? To kill one man? Yeah, I call bullshit, your ‘war on terror’ is an excuse to whip out your big red white and blue dick and other, more politically minded people have made much more powerful statements to this effect already, so enough of me, go read them.
If it did not make me so mad, this would be an incredible film as Kathryn Bigelow really knows how to put a film together. It is an intense and gripping procedural on a scale unlike any of it’s kind. Jessica Chastain delivers a career defining performance as Maya, she is driven to an almost inhuman degree and she is very intense. Unfortunately the film angers me because it believes that it can be neutral and it is anything but, it dodges the real ethical questions of torture and of the war on terror making it pretty much American imperial propaganda of a similar style to Leni Riefenstahl, though instead of her ignorance to the evils committed by her government, Bigelow presents the evils as normal, nothing worth examining on a deeper level, which might actually be worse. 2/5