I and many other people were a little surprised when the news broke on a Sunday evening in May 2011 that al-qaeda founder and terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces. Ten years had passed between the 9/11 attacks and his reckoning, but Kathryn Bigelow's film "Zero Dark Thirty" helps explain the delay. The first two hours of the film is much more intelligence procedural than thriller and the methodical pacing may turn off less interested viewers. But just when you have had enough of angry looks and internal CIA politics the viewer is rewarded with the payoff.
After more than seven years of tracking down one dead end after another a relentless CIA analyst is finally able to put the pieces together. She is 95-100% sure her prey is living in a nondescript, but fortified house in a quiet Pakistani town. After months of handwringing the Obama administration orders a raid on the compound and as the cliche goes - the rest is history. Zero Dark Thirty is too long and deliberate to work as a thriller, but it does provide useful insights into controversial CIA tactics like enhanced interrogation techniques. I came away with a renewed appreciation of the anonymous intelligence and military personnel who have and continue to work so hard to keep the rest of us safe.