Zero Dark Thirty – One Person Can Make The Difference

by Yo Snyder

There’s a moment towards the end of Zero Dark Thirty that was my absolute favorite. Seal Team 6 had just
completed their mission when the team leader turned to the Seal who had pulled
the trigger on the final target and says, “Do you realize what you’ve done?”
There’s a look of dawning comprehension as the magnitude of what just took
place washes over him. All he had done was kill the world’s most notorious and
sought after terrorist. He then walks out of the room in a stunned daze. I also
walked out of the theater rather stunned as well as Zero Dark Thirty is a fascinating, riveting account of the search
for one of the most infamous men in all of history, and what it took to not
only find him, but finally bring him down.

In the Bourne Legacy,
we see another type of manhunt; the truly Hollywood version of manhunt. In that
version, the government can track someone halfway around the world in a matter
of hours using all kinds of fancy technology and gizmos and gadgets. They find
their needle in a haystack in a matter of hours, all just using a paper trails
and video images. We see those things in the movies and on TV so often that one
might wonder if we have so much amazing technology, how is it possible that
Usama Bin Laden evaded capture and even detection for so long. Zero Dark Thirty shows us how that was
possible, and what it really takes to find a single human needle in the massive
haystack of the world’s populace. Yes, technology played a big part of it, but
there were a couple of other ingredients, controversial ones, that were a part
of it as well.

One was the gathering of information from detainees…through
torture. Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t
flinch when it documents this part of the search for Bin Laden. It’s not
pleasant, it’s hard to watch, but it does leave one wondering if it was
necessary to get the job done. There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not
this movie is “pro-torture”, but all it really does is pragmatically show that
it was done as a part of the search for Bin Laden, and it helped to eventually
track him down. Could of it been down without such techniques? I don’t think
this film is here to debate that point, but rather just state this is how it
was done and it will be up to history to judge whether it was necessary, or the
right way to go about doing it. Time will tell if the ends justified the means.

The other ingredient was the drive, determination, and
obsession of one person. CIA agent Maya spent her entire career, from the
moment she was recruited to the moment the final mission went down tracking Bin
Laden. At first it was her job, but over the years it became so much more than
that. I’ve heard that in real life she was far from easy to work with, not
pleasant to be around, and wholly focused on this one mission. Again, the
question is whether or not this hunt would have ended successfully without the
drive of person such as her. With so many other issues and politics clouding
the air around the main objective of finding Bin Laden, it may not have ever
happened if there hadn’t been that one person to make it happen. Some may have felt she was too obsessed and
fanatical, but the world changed because of that.

Christians are often times accused of the same thing; being
too fanatical and single-minded. That can be uncomfortable, and so some
Christians try to soften the message, try to seem less extreme, less “so
heavenly minded” so they can be more “earthly good”. That’s a shame, really,
because sometimes what the world needs is someone with a single-minded, driven,
determined attitude. In fact, the early Church, not long after Jesus died, had
that exact same mindset, and it was said of them, “here comes those people who
are turning the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6 NKJV) It occurred to me while
watching Zero Dark Thirty that world
is a different place because one woman refused to give up, give in, or
compromise in her determination to bring down Bin Laden. Well, the world can
also be a different place if those who follow Jesus are also fiercely
determined to never give-up in sharing the good news of his love, grace,
redemption, forgiveness and salvation. One driven individual can change the
world. It’s happened before, it can happen again.

If you’ve kept up with current events in recent years, Zero Dark Thirty will be especially
fascinating to watch as it walks you through all of the key moments leading up
to the death of Bin Laden. Seeing everything that it took to find the guy, and
then to finally get approval to do something about it is as fascinating as it
is frustrating (why do politics always have to come first?) The final assault
on the compound is gripping, tense, and suspenseful, even though we already
know the outcome. Like Lincoln, that’s
what makes this movie so enjoyable. We already know what happens, yet somehow
this movie makes it as suspenseful and tense as if the end were in doubt. The
gritty, non-flashy style that it’s filmed in gives the whole experience a “you
are there” vibe to it, though there are moments, which I know did happen, that
seem almost too dramatic to have been real. They feel so Hollywood, and yet, I
can remember the news reports about them actually taking place, so throughout
the film you can’t help but wonder just how much of this stays true to the

There’s very little point in telling you that the
performances by all are uniformly excellent, or what a fine job the director
did because none of what I have said already would be true were it not for the
excellence of everyone involved in making this movie. Zero Dark Thirty is a fascinating look at a piece of recent
history, and of one of the most intriguing operations and manhunts in the past
century. It reveals much about the real world spygame and what it really takes
to be a “Bourne Legacy” in the real world. It’s also just a really well-made
film, and great example that sometimes the best stories aren’t the one we
imagine, but the ones that take place all around us.

Score: 6 of 7 — Zero Dark Thirty is rated R, and rightly
so. The scenes of torture are uncomfortable to say the least, there’s a lot of
language, and while there are a lot of action scenes, they’re startling and
gritty. This isn’t an action-hero movie, this is about as real-world as you can
get, and the real world sometimes is kind of messy; just like some of the
content of this movie.