Zero Dark Thirty” Makes for Very Uneasy Viewing.

The Godfather movie image Al PacinoIf his­to­ry has taught us any­thing, above and beyond the fact that any­one can be killed, it’s that there’s no such thing as being neutral.

Imag­ine what might have hap­pened between us and our clos­est neigh­bour if we had­n’t gone out of our way to secret­ly help them dur­ing the IIWWOr if we’d pre­vent­ed the US from using Shan­non over the last decade.

Refus­ing to take a stand amounts to tak­ing the oth­er side. 

zero-dark-thirty-posterThere’s been a huge con­tro­ver­sy in the US over Zero Dark Thir­ty’s atti­tude to tor­ture. Which is baf­fling. Because, as the Inde­pen­dent On Sun­day’s ever reli­able Jonathon Rom­ney says here, there’s noth­ing remote­ly ambiva­lent about it whatsoever.

There are two aspects to tor­ture. Is it eth­i­cal­ly and moral­ly accept­able? And does it work? And the film is crys­tal clear on both fronts. 

In the fight for good against evil, in the “war on ter­ror” in oth­er words, the good guys do what­ev­er they have to in their efforts to nail the bad guys. And if that means tor­ture, so be it. 

Does tor­ture work? Demon­stra­bly. It’s thanks to the infor­ma­tion they extract­ed through tor­tur­ing their Pris­on­ers Of War that they even­tu­al­ly locate the hide out in Pak­istan where a mys­te­ri­ous man is housed. 

And in case you were in any doubt, when some­body in the White House says that they need proof that it real­ly is Osama holed up in there, the CIA tell him that they can’t give him that proof, now that the new admin­is­tra­tion have stopped them, alas, from using torture.

Zero Dark Thir­ty is Kathryn Bigelow’s fol­low-up to the qui­eter, Oscar win­ning The Hurt Lock­er. Once again, it’s an extreme­ly well made film. But this time around, all we get is a con­ven­tion­al shoot-em-up, Hol­ly­wood war film. And, like every­thing else that’s come out of Hol­ly­wood since the suc­cess of The Titan­ic, it’s way, way too long. 

zero-dark-thirty-jessica-chastain-sliceIt’s Jaws meets The Guns Of Navarone, in which the lone sher­iff, played by Jes­si­ca Chas­tain, comes up against the indif­fer­ence of her supe­ri­ors as she fights alone to keep the good towns­folk safe from the evil dan­ger threat­en­ing from without.

What you think of it will depend on what your views are on the fact that there are tens of thou­sands of US and British troops sta­tioned in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in dozens of oth­er coun­tries across the globe. 

If you’d like to have been in Times Square cel­e­brat­ing the killing of Osama bin Laden, then the film’s depic­tion of tor­ture might very well seem to you to be some­what ambiva­lent. In that it fails to open­ly cel­e­brate it. 

For the rest of us, it makes for very uneasy view­ing indeed. 

Sign up for a sub­scrip­tion here, and I shall keep you post­ed every week, on All the Very Best and Worst in Film, Tele­vi­sion and Music!



Speak Your Mind