Tuesday, January 29, 2013

where do you want to go?

I gave myself a treat last night.

As a reward for getting the house ready for the house cleaners for the next three days, I went to the movies.  To Zero Dark Thirty to be exact.

The political hullabaloo that has surrounded the film dropped it from my interest radar.  First, the right was upset that it would be used as a propaganda film for the president's re-election.  Now, the left has labeled it as a fascist paean to torture.

The jabber whirlwind reminds me of the fight that greeted John Wayne's The Green Berets during the Vietnam War.  Reviewers took their stand on the film based on their own political stands.  Almost no one noticed that it was simply not a very good movie.

But that is the way of politics.  To hear Ed Asner and Martin Sheen, you would think the film-makers had updated Birth of a Nation.

The film is about the efforts the United States took in killing Osama bin Laden as a result of his terrorist activities.  We know each of those terrors.  And they are masterfully and artistically recalled in the film.

Here is my take on the moral issues.  I hate war.  I hate killing.  But mature citizens of the world know that life does not always offer us black and white moral choices.  Too often, our choices are between evil and an even more unspeakable evil.

That is what this film is about.  It is about the choices civilizations must make.  In this case, Osama bin Laden and his group repeatedly attacked the west and its citizens.  The west, led by the United States, reacted.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  If anyone wants to argue with the result, they should say so.

But, let's put politics aside.  This film is a very good film.  About a young woman CIA officer who doggedly puts together the facts that led to Osama's death. 

The screenwriter does not deliver up a Joan of Arc for us.  Our heroine is very flawed.  Very real.

Squeamish about some interrogation techniques.  Far too personal in her desire to see Osama dead.  But a patriot who knows evil.  And keeps focused in destroying it.

The film is intense without being gratuitously violent. But where there is violence, it is very personal. The film does not swerve away from portraying the tough moral choices that are made on behalf of our nation.

We all know how the story ends.  The young woman accomplishes her mission through the agency of bearded foul-smelling men.

As the film winds down following Osama's death, our heroine boards an airplane and the flight chief asks her: "Where would you like to go?"  The camera pulls in for a tight closeup as tears stream down her face.

It is a good question for Americans.  Having spent a decade tracking down the evil of September 11, where do we want to go?

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