Review: ‘Zero Dark 30′ (MA) ****

FOR Katherine Bigelow’s intense film about tracking down Osama bin Laden, Mark Boal‘s screenplay steadily develops a true story about revenge using powerful, credible images of professionals performing difficult, dangerous tasks.

From a beginning unabashedly demonstrating methods of persuading people to give up information against their will, the film explores complex and risky political and investigative processes that bear little fruit and offer deep frustrations. And grief, mourning colleagues fallen in conflict with an enemy mostly indistinguishable from the general populace.

Swift retribution is almost an anticlimax, tense, violent, emotionally a mixture of discomfort and satisfaction that this revenge is indeed a dish best served cold. Some may find its delivery distasteful. Others may share my regret that the special forces team couldn’t take OBL alive to face judicial enquiry. But failure to admire Maya the female CIA intelligence analyst who spent more than a decade pursuing OBL while rejecting all other career possibilities, is not an option.

Developing Maya into a seasoned infighter in Washington’s corridors and Pakistan’s crowded streets and alleys, Jessica Chastain gives a bravura performance. Queenslander Jason Clark makes a solid meal of Dan, initially Maya’s mentor and later her associate. Kyle Chandler is her supervisor. Jennifer Ehle is her fellow analyst whose death in the field is all the more shocking for its unembellished telling.

The film’s recreating of reality carries an admirable quasi-documentary quality while delivering low-energy, high-impact tensions all the way to an ending that’s now history.

At all cinemas

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