Posted by on February 1, 2013


Movie ReelIf you enjoy military documentaries and don’t care much for character development or accuracy, then I do believe Zero Dark Thirty is the ticket you’ll want to buy. 

I’m not so sure my review can be unbiased. But let me just put this out there, I have two problems with movies based on actual events. 

First, I think we all need to remember that these films are just that…movies.

They are historical dramas and may or may not be completely accurate. No matter how you go about it, the past is still portrayed through someone else’s lens. That’s called, in the movie business, taking “artistic license”. Which means, “If my story’s not exciting enough, I can lie to you and spruce it up.” Generally, that’s okay. We go to these things to be entertained, but when it’s advertised as being “based on firsthand accounts”, you might expect for most things to be on target. 

And secondly, I think there needs to be some considerable time between the movie and the actual event.

I’m not sure how much time, but probably more than a year.  What kind of government allows for mission details to just be sold to the highest bidder? Officials kept Tony Mendez’s story(see Argo) under lock and key for over 25 years. Mark Bowden didn’t publish his book, Black Hawk Down, about the Battle of Mogadishu until 1999—six years after it occurred. And Hollywood didn’t get a hold of it until 2001. It just seems wrong to be putting a movie out about the hunt and assassination of Bin Laden when our relationship with Pakistan, and well…most everyone in the Middle East isn’t so great. AND to be making scads of money off the event also bugs me, but that’s probably another point altogether. 

Now, about the actual movie. I give it a 3 (and I think that’s generous). I’m not sure if I can completely separate myself from the two points above, but if I did, then I still wouldn’t like the movie.


I hated the script. About a quarter of it, I couldn’t understand. It felt spliced together and more enamored with itself than interested in its audience (except for their $10). It covered a span of ten years, but I didn’t notice a lot of changes. Make a point to have a clunky computer be upgraded to an all-in-one or something, and the main character Maya never changed her hairstyle. Who does that? Switch it up a little. Do something to make it seem like another year has gone by other than pasting some white letters on the screen (two years later, mmmph). 

Speaking of Maya, I never really cared about her. Shouldn’t you care about the characters? That’s one of the things they teach you in writing school. Make sure your reader cares about the character and what happens to them. I didn’t really care about her. . .maybe because I didn’t really know anything about her…which might be because she didn’t actually exist. I read somewhere that the person who stayed on the case for ten years was really a man. But who wants to go see a movie about a middle-aged, overweight man with a bald spot who sat in an office all day? (Note—see artistic license) 

Toward the end of the movie, Maya mentions that she joined the CIA out of high school, but that she’s probably not allowed to explain why. That sounds interesting. Make a movie about that and leave the horrible events in our broken world off the screen. 

I’m guessing Jessica Chastain will get the Oscar, and I guess I can’t really comment on that. She’s a very good actress. 

Well, I’ve probably said enough.

Just one more thing, though. In doing my research, I read that aid workers are now being treated with hostility. Maybe there are some secrets we shouldn’t just broadcast for everyone to see. I’m downgrading it to a 2 now.

PS…if you have another minute, please stop by and cast your Oscar’s Ballot.  I’ll tally the results and report them on the Friday before the Oscars! Thank you!


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