“Zero Dark Thirty”
Rated R: Language and strong violence including brutal disturbing images
Running time: 2 hours, 37 minutes
Who’s in it: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, James Gandolfini
What it’s about: A CIA officer (Chastain) leads an eight-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, which climaxes with a daring nighttime raid in Pakistan.
Verdict: Much like her Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker,” director Kathryn Bigelow’s account of the CIA’s search for Osama bin Laden is compelling filmmaking that can be difficult to watch at times, as it should be. Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (who also wrote “Hurt Locker”) have been criticized for glamorizing torture. While they do not glamorize it (the torture scenes are horrifying) they should have been more critical of it rather than present it as a necessary evil. That said, this is still a hypnotic procedural that chronicles nearly a decade of frustrations and setbacks before the Navy Seal’s celebrated raid on bin Laden’s compound. Chastain is dynamite as the flinty professional who remains focused on her mission even as her superiors begin to give up. Even though we know the outcome, the story is charged with suspense.