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Afterimage: Zero Dark Thirty

Not so much a meditation as a nitpick, but still.

Hey, if Batman can hack every cell phone in Gotham...

Okay, so you've all seen Zero Dark Thirty and then spent 15-20 hours online, debating the film's depiction of torture and its possible efficacy in obtaining information crucial to finding and killing UBL.

(While we're on the ethical-debate side of things, would it have killed them to have one moment of someone in a meeting asking about the legal/moral ramifications of executing a dude, even a very bad dude, without the benefit of trial? I mean, hell, Saddam Hussein was regarded as a bad enough dude that we invaded his country and toppled his government, but even he got taken alive and tried. Further, how about a question concerning the legal/moral ramifications of executing a dude on someone else's turf? I mean, last I checked, these questions of sovereignty mattered a lot. Except this time. I'm not saying we needed a lot of hand-wringing, but are we really to believe that nobody said anything along these lines? That it was all, "We found 'im, let's kill 'im!" from the get-go?)

But questions of ethics aside, what about practical questions? In particular, practical questions as they pertain to storytelling - the way the movie presents the events it treats? The mechanics of the film are built around the massive, coordinated, messy effort to procure tiny, significant pieces of information that would eventually, after years and years, lead to success. (And even then, a certain amount of luck was required - "Hey, look what I found while I was going through the archives!") Painstaking is the watchword.

But at some point, I fear that director Kathryn Bigelow must have glanced at her watch and said, "We're running long. Time for some wizardry." Because I can't think of how else to account for the magic cell-phone find. You know, the scene where tech-boy drops a phone in front of Jessica Chastain and tells him that every time her target makes a call, the phone he just gave her will ring. Naturally, she is overjoyed. This is the big break she needed.

But how's that again? This film has been relentless is showing is exactly how things get done, in emphasizing detail and procedure. And then suddenly, it's time for unexplained techno-solutions. "Oh, yeah, I just defribblized his cross-trackulation patterns, and wiznatched the QPC signal. Won't be long now." Put another way:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfy5dFhw3ik

Please, tell me I'm wrong here. Cuz otherwise, ZDT cheated at its own game, which is a little sad. If you're going to emphasize process over meaning, you've got to go all in on process.

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Hey, if Batman can hack every cell phone in Gotham...

Okay, so you've all seen Zero Dark Thirty and then spent 15-20 hours online, debating the film's depiction of torture and its possible efficacy in obtaining information crucial to finding and killing UBL.

(While we're on the ethical-debate side of things, would it have killed them to have one moment of someone in a meeting asking about the legal/moral ramifications of executing a dude, even a very bad dude, without the benefit of trial? I mean, hell, Saddam Hussein was regarded as a bad enough dude that we invaded his country and toppled his government, but even he got taken alive and tried. Further, how about a question concerning the legal/moral ramifications of executing a dude on someone else's turf? I mean, last I checked, these questions of sovereignty mattered a lot. Except this time. I'm not saying we needed a lot of hand-wringing, but are we really to believe that nobody said anything along these lines? That it was all, "We found 'im, let's kill 'im!" from the get-go?)

But questions of ethics aside, what about practical questions? In particular, practical questions as they pertain to storytelling - the way the movie presents the events it treats? The mechanics of the film are built around the massive, coordinated, messy effort to procure tiny, significant pieces of information that would eventually, after years and years, lead to success. (And even then, a certain amount of luck was required - "Hey, look what I found while I was going through the archives!") Painstaking is the watchword.

But at some point, I fear that director Kathryn Bigelow must have glanced at her watch and said, "We're running long. Time for some wizardry." Because I can't think of how else to account for the magic cell-phone find. You know, the scene where tech-boy drops a phone in front of Jessica Chastain and tells him that every time her target makes a call, the phone he just gave her will ring. Naturally, she is overjoyed. This is the big break she needed.

But how's that again? This film has been relentless is showing is exactly how things get done, in emphasizing detail and procedure. And then suddenly, it's time for unexplained techno-solutions. "Oh, yeah, I just defribblized his cross-trackulation patterns, and wiznatched the QPC signal. Won't be long now." Put another way:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfy5dFhw3ik

Please, tell me I'm wrong here. Cuz otherwise, ZDT cheated at its own game, which is a little sad. If you're going to emphasize process over meaning, you've got to go all in on process.

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Comments
4

Good points. In the context of the movie did it seem seem like a snatch 'n grab could have been successful? I haven't seen it and am in no rush to do so... The tech angle almost sounds like the sort of thing that would be bothering me throughout, kinda like in Looper (also haven't seen) when RLM noted the plot hole of the dude's wife getting shot for no reason.

Jan. 16, 2013

Yeah, that bit in Looper bugged me too.

Jan. 21, 2013

Yes, that was a very convenient turn of events with the cell phone. Magic?

What got me though, was when they entered the building where OBL was and shot one guy who had a gun, and then shot the woman who ran to the guy, who was unarmed. Maybe they thought she was going to pick up that guys gun, but they didn't wait to find out. That was murder.

Jan. 20, 2013

Yessir.

Jan. 21, 2013

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