Zero Dark Thirty Review

You know that nervous feeling you get in the pit of your stomach that first morning in a new job?

Well, spare a thought for Jessica Chastain’s Maya in Zero Dark Thirty, who walks straight into a torture chamber on her first day.

Oh, and maybe the fellow being tortured too.

The year is 2002 and america’s supposed war on terror, which was definitely not about Bush the younger succeeding where daddy failed in Iraq, is in full swing.

Which of course means the illegal and inhumane torturing of anyone who has the wrong kind of passport, skin, beard religion or clothing until american justice has been wrought.

Which kind of sounds exactly like the sort of thing a terrorist would do.

Maya has just been parachuted into the CIA’s headquarters in the Middle East to help cajole some beardy detainees into revealing information they may or may not know.

So there’s waterboarding, beatings, force feedings and my personal favourite, naked box fitting.

I’d quite like to place some big money on someone turning naked box fitting into the dance move for 2013.

Anyway, because our heroine is a pretty little woman, her big, macho colleagues think Maya might have some problems with contravening the Geneva Convention on an hourly basis.

But thank the lord, jesus, superman or any other US deity you can think of, because this all-american girl is like totally into torture; maybe even more than her patriotic brethren in arms.

Of course this state sponsored torture is all in a good cause you see, or rather it’s all in an american cause, so it’s ok.

And so Zero Dark Thirty goes on and on with its incessant tub-thumping, US propaganda narrative.

As the more perceptive of you out there may have already guessed, I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Kathryn Bigelow’s latest hard hitting film.

I’m all for big, blockbusting action films, but when this is based on actual people or events and played for real something just doesn’t add up to me.

If I had to put my finger on it, I’d have to say the idea of already rich people trying to make even more money by glamourizing real life torture and murder in a film kind of makes me feel sick.

But then I’ve always had a different moral compass to most.

Naturally, Zero Dark Thirty’s graphic depiction of torture has caused something of a media kerfuffle.

Director Bigelow and writer Mark Boal have continually tried to justify this under the all-encompassing umbrella of “artistic licence”, but that’s just more american propaganda.

Apart from anything else, what kind of art lies in the successful recreation of torturing people?

The answer is obvious to anyone not waving an american flag in one hand, and a gun in the other.

Zero Dark Thirty is not art, just another heavy handed slice of cinematic propaganda from the god ol’ US of A.

I can tell you how well made Zero Dark Thirty is, which it is, and how a strong ensemble cast led by Jessica Chastain deftly ratchet up the tension as you watch proceedings chug along towards the inevitable demise of Osama Bin Laden.

But I just don’t get why a film that glorifies America’s murderous foreign policy and tactics of torture has been made in the first place, apart from the aforementioned trying to make a shed load of money thing.

Now I’ve found the common response to sentiment like this usually runs along the lines of what about all those innocent folk who died in 9/11?

Well, what about all the innocent people who’ve died since 9/11?

Even conservative estimates place the death toll at hundreds of thousands in america’s seemingly never-ending war against terror; and they’re still killing innocent people now, mostly through america’s continued and cowardly use of drone attacks.

To put it another way, imagine a 9/11 style attack happening every year for the next fifty years and you’ll begin to get somewhere near the number of innocent folk killed by america in their war on terror.

Now, where’s their film?

Because last time I checked, these guys don’t have one.

Nor do they have a voice, or a day when the so called civilised people of the west stop their greed obsessed, everyday lives for two minutes and think about how many innocent people have been slaughtered in the name of america’s oxymoronic war on terror.

But I forget, a western life is worth so much more than someone on the other side of the world with the wrong colour skin.

And if you’ve also forgotten this simple, imperialistic fact of life, Zero Dark Thirty will bring it screaming home to you.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

January 2013