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The hunt club

With Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow dramatizes the CIA’s search for Osama bin Laden

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Kathryn Bigelow follows her Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker with this gripping account of the search for Osama bin Laden, focusing on bureaucratic infighting at the CIA as the political winds shift and new intelligence brings Seal Team Six to bin Laden's door. Jessica Chastain plays a CIA officer who grows more obsessed with each al Qaeda attack and, persuaded that bin Laden is hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan, crosses swords with Islamabad station chief Kyle Chandler in her determination to move on the intelligence. The stomach-turning scenes of waterboarding that open the film have already embroiled it in controversy, with John McCain, Diane Feinstein, and Carl Levin disputing the movie's veracity and others denouncing it as pro-torture. That debate will continue, but at the very least Bigelow has widened her reach past the white-knuckle thrills of The Hurt Locker and into the darkest currents of American military might—at the risk of being swept away.

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