I finally got around to watching "Zero Dark Thirty" last weekend. I wanted to see for myself if there was any merit to the controversy surrounding its torture scenes. While there was enough ambiguity in the details and style of the film that I could understand both its supporters and detractors, I also got the feeling that all of them sort of missed the point. And that is because, as the credits rolled, I was overwhelmed by the utter waste of everything that I had just seen being depicted.
How much blood, sweat, and treasure was expended in hunting Osama bin Laden? And for what? Well, on that question at least, the movie is quite instructive. It opens with audio from the morning of September 11th. Particular effort seems to have been made to highlight the pleas and screams of those trapped in the World Trade Center buildings. We want to believe that this film dramatizes the hunt for justice and national security, but it is really just a story about vengeance.
And what did our act of revenge buy us? Here again, the movie is telling. For it ends with the lead hunter sitting on an airplane alone and emotionally empty in what should be her hour of triumph. Her soul seems as dead as her prey. Perhaps the real hunters have kept a few of us alive for a few more days, but what good is that when compared to all that has been destroyed in the name of the hunt? Love was not advanced here, only vengeance. And that is the ugly truth of warfare that we refuse to see.