“I’m going to die, aren’t I?” a female voice with an eerie calmness asks rhetorically on a 911 tape from inside the towers on September 11th. Then…she dies. This is how the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” opens.
You may well ask, “What genre movie is this? Isit a cop movie, a spy movie, a war movie, or a movie about politics?”
I would answer, “All of the above.” You could even go as far as saying it’s a love story. I’ll explain this part later.
One can’t help but watch this movie and realize that there are a few who sacrifice much for the safety of many, because of love of country. (AP Image)
Enhanced Interrogation Worked
After that terrible day of 9/11, the movie flashes forward to a CIA interrogator in a grimy cell somewhere in Iraq explaining to his terrorist captive, “This is what defeat looks like, bro. Your Jihad is over.”
The movie depicts the agent who is a warrior with a PHD using enhanced interrogation techniques to play both roles of the classic good cop/bad cop routine. These techniques work, for he convinces the terrorist to give up the name of a courier for bin Laden.
A young CIA field agent/intelligence analyst named Maya — present during the interview — becomes the one person who believes if she finds this courier she will find bin Laden.
Over the years, this courier becomes Maya’s “Holy Grail.” She is scoffed at, waved off and even ordered to discontinue her pursuit of this “unicorn.”
She is undeterred. Eventually her enthusiasm becomes contagious and she is joined in her quest by an ever increasing number of believers. They take you along with them in their dogged cop- like pursuit of the courier through the battlefields of the war on terror. These are non-traditional battlefields using non-traditional tactics against a non-traditional enemy.
It also takes on the appearance of a complex criminal investigation. In this criminal investigation, however, “Your right to remain silent,” may mean an extra round in the brain pan.
A major theme of this truth-telling movie is that one person can make a difference, but that that person can make an even bigger difference when they are a part of a dedicated team.
The team members ranged from the Christian professional political wranglers in Washington that survive multiple administrations, while convincing the indecisive to be decisive, to the Muslim operatives risking all on the “picket line,” gathering intelligence on the ground in the darkest nether regions of Pakistan.
Some members wear a suit, wield a computer and ride a desk, while others wear body armor, wield a M4 with a suppressor and ride a Black Hawk. Together, they get the job done.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is one where Seal Team Six is relaxing on a base. Some are in folding chairs tossing a football around, while there is another member pitching horseshoes.
During the discussion, the team members come to the agreement that they will happily risk being captured and sexually violated in a Pakistani prison because they believe Maya’s conclusion that bin Laden is going to be at the compound. They draw this conclusion because of one thing... her confidence.
The Seal throwing horse shoes bets one of his buddies that he can make a ringer for $50.
As he lines up the shot, one of the seals turns in his chair and leans over to pick up something as the football is thrown to him. As he comes up, the ball is coming at his face too fast for him to react.
At the very last moment, another Seal snatches the ball before it impacts his fellow Seal in the face, just as the other Seal makes a ringer with the horse shoe. The subtle message was that these guys have got each others’ backs, and when the stakes are high they will make the shot.
This is proved to be right during the incredibly-realistic raid scene.
Director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) once again masterfully — and without obnoxious editorializing — tells this compelling story in a manner worthy of the noble warriors, who lived the story.
A Love Story
Now, I started this piece talking about this movie being a story of spies, cops, soldiers, politicians, but you may ask, “Where is the love story?”
This is a story of Americans who are risking their lives for the love of this country. They leave their homes and families to live and work in a hostile environment and sometimes they make the ultimate sacrifice with few knowing of their daring deeds, except fellow team members and their God.
One fallen covert warrior in real news footage covering the actual historical event depicted in the movie was reported to be “a mother of three.”
One can’t help but watch this movie and realize that there are a few who sacrifice much for the safety of many, because of love of country. After viewing the movie, please take a moment in the darkness of the theatre to say a prayer for them and to love them right back.
As I watched the movie, I had a sense that this was how it happened. I initially thought that this was a bad thing, because our enemies might watch this and know our tactics.
With additional introspection, my opinion changed and I greatly hope that our enemies will see this movie so that they should know our resolve.
Zero Dark Thirty Official Final Trailer
About the author
Lt. Dan Marcou retired as a highly decorated police lieutenant and SWAT Commander with 33 years of full time law enforcement experience. He is a nationally recognized police trainer in many police disciplines and is a Master Trainer in the State of Wisconsin. He has authored three novels The Calling: The Making of a Veteran Cop , S.W.A.T. Blue Knights in Black Armor, and Nobody's Heroes are all available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Visit his website and contact Dan Marcou