The film centers on Maya, who is a rookie field agent at the beginning. As the film progresses in leaps, sometimes skipping years at a time, Maya becomes tougher and tougher. The transformation of the lead character is very noticeable. But this movie is not about character development. Zero Dark Thirty is a modern spy film. This is what cold war spy thrillers have evolved into: gritty, realistic and no-holds-barred. Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart. Scenes of torture and violence are plentiful. Exaggeration is minimal in this movie: the soundtrack is minimal, the special effects are compact and the dialogue is cliché-free.
The story unravels in deliberately a slow fashion, much like the cautious opening of confidential intelligence dossiers. The characters are grounded in reality; they never seem larger than life. As the hunt for Bin Laden (“UBL” in CIA lingo) intensifies, stifles and finally escalates, Maya’s obsession consumes you.
The fateful night time raid in Abottabad is portrayed masterfully. From the helicopter crash to the nervous crowd control, the whole operation is one breathless joyride. Silence is used as a very powerful sound effect in Zero Dark Thirty: the lack of background music sets a foreboding mood.
Watch Zero Dark Thirty. You will not be disappointed. You will get a glimpse at the complexities of our reality: the politics, the madness and the sheer incredulity of the world we live in. Argo may have won Best Picture at the Oscars, but it would not have been wasted on Zero Dark Thirty either.