Zero Dark Thirty is a American historical drama film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. Billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man,” the film is a dramatization of the United States operation that found and killed Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda.
Maya (Jessica Chastain), a young CIA officer, has spent her entire brief career since graduating from high school focused solely on gathering intelligence related to Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, following the terrorist organization’s September 11 attacks in the United States. She has just been reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to work with a fellow officer, Dan (Jason Clarke).
During the first months of her assignment, Maya often accompanies Dan to a black site for his continuing interrogation of Ammar (Reda Kateb), a detainee with suspected links to several Saudi terrorists. Through their interrogations of Ammar, Maya develops and investigates her theories on the whereabouts of bin Laden.
There’s a reason Zero Dark Thirty was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, the movie is just that good. It may not be a movie for all audiences. If you go see this movie expecting to see a movie that looks like a James Bond or Jason Bourne action extravaganza, you might find yourself sorely disappointed. Likewise it’s not a Tom Clancy techno thriller. Zero Dark Thirty is an honest drama showing the CIA’s decade long struggle to find the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
The main character of the movie is CIA analyst named Maya (played by Jessica Chastain); no last name is given. Maya enters the hunt for Osama Bin Laden at an undisclosed CIA facility where captured terrorists are being held and questioned. She arrives to witness the “enhanced” interrogation of Ammar, a courier for Saudi terrorists. Through Ammar’s interrogation and many others, Maya begins to piece together information on Osama’s network, learning of a senior courier named Abu Ahmed who had direct access to Bin Laden.
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Year of Release: 2012
Character to watch: Jessica Chastain as Maya.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?