Wow, dark is right.
Let me start by saying that you should definitely see this movie. Taking the form of a procedural, it reminded me of Zodiac more than anything. The pace is similar, the tone is as well. I love Zodiac, and find it compulsively watchable, but didn’t care for it at all the first time I viewed it. Now I can’t take my eyes off of it. Right now I’m very glad that I watched Zero Dark 30 but not sure that I enjoyed the experience. I suspect I’ll wind up watching it a few more times as well and ultimately be hooked in a similar fashion. In any case, you should see this film.
The big difference between the two films is that I lived during the time that Zero Dark 30 took place, and instead of the police chasing a serial killer it’s the US Government chasing Bin Laden. Bigelow takes us through the muddy waters that entails and forces us to face our own complicity in the hunt. Nothing about it is pretty. The human cost is heavy on both sides, and avoiding ideology or partisanship was key in this process.
There was a great outcry about the possibility of the film being released prior to the election. As is usually the case when people pre-judge art the concern was completely baseless. If anything Obama’s team might be unhappy that for all the access granted they come off looking as bad as the other side generally. There are no heroes here, only participants.