Zero Dark Thirty

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(2012) ★★★★

Film 4: PREMIERE Wednesday 11 November, 9pm

Two years after 9/11, field agent Jason Clarke shows CIA analyst Jessica Chastain the ropes, as it were, when it comes to interrogating detainees – suspected al-Qaeda couriers, financiers and flunkies – in far-flung secret sites in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“You cannot force me to tell you what I don’t know,” says one detainee, underestimating Clarke’s resolve. The target, of course, is Osama bin Laden. He’s the needle in the haystack. As ever, truth is stranger than fiction. He was hiding in a fortified compound barely a kilometre from Pakistan’s military academy in Abbottabad.

Even Area 51 eventually gets in on the act in a reconstruction of a hi-tech manhunt staged with tense conviction by The Hurt Locker Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow. In every detail it feels disconcertingly real, and no attempt is made to soft-soap the isolationist US view: “Without bin Laden,” says Chastain, “al-Qaeda will focus on overseas targets.” Not America, she means. Suddenly, Homeland feels a little bit homemade.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 157min

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