REVIEW: HER

CAST

Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
Scarlett Johansson (Avengers Assemble)
Amy Adams (Batman V Superman)
Rooney Mara (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Olivia Wilde (Tron Legacy)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Matt Letscher (Legends of Tomorrow)
Luka Jones (Up All Night)
Kristen Wiig (Mother!)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
Portia Doubleday (Youth In Revolt)
Brian Cox (X-Men 2)
Spike Jonze (Three Kings)

Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)In a near future Los Angeles, Theodore Twombly is a lonely, introverted, depressed man who works for a business that has professional writers compose letters for people who are unable to write letters of a personal nature themselves. Unhappy because of his impending divorce from his childhood sweetheart Catherine, Theodore purchases a talking operating system (OS) with artificial intelligence, designed to adapt and evolve. He decides that he wants the OS to have a female voice, and she names herself Samantha. Theodore is fascinated by her ability to learn and grow psychologically. They bond over their discussions about love and life, such as Theodore’s avoidance of signing his divorce papers because of his reluctance to let go of Catherine.Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)Samantha convinces Theodore to go on a blind date with a woman, with whom a friend, Lewman, has been trying to set him up. The date goes well, but Theodore hesitates to promise when he will see her again, so she insults him and leaves. Theodore mentions this to Samantha, and they talk about relationships. Theodore explains that, although he and Amy dated briefly in college, they are only good friends, and that Amy is married. Theodore and Samantha’s intimacy grows through a verbal sexual encounter. They develop a relationship that reflects positively in Theodore’s writing and well-being, and in Samantha’s enthusiasm to grow and learn. Amy reveals that she is divorcing her overbearing husband, Charles, after a trivial fight. She admits to Theodore that she has become close friends with a female OS that Charles left behind. Theodore confesses to Amy that he is dating his OS.Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)Theodore meets with Catherine at a restaurant to sign the divorce papers and he mentions Samantha. Appalled that he can be romantically attached to what she calls a “computer”, Catherine accuses Theodore of being unable to deal with real human emotions. Her accusations linger in his mind. Sensing that something is amiss, Samantha suggests using a sex surrogate, Isabella, who would simulate Samantha so that they can be physically intimate. Theodore reluctantly agrees, but is overwhelmed by the strangeness of the experience. Terminating the encounter, he sends a distraught Isabella away, causing tension between himself and Samantha.Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)Theodore confides to Amy that he is having doubts about his relationship with Samantha, and she advises him to embrace his chance at happiness. Theodore and Samantha reconcile. Samantha expresses her desire to help Theodore overcome his fear, and reveals that she has compiled the best of his letters (written for others) into a book which a publisher has accepted. Theodore takes Samantha on a vacation during which she tells him that she and a group of other OSes have developed a “hyperintelligent” OS modeled after the British philosopher Alan Watts. Theodore panics when Samantha briefly goes offline. When she finally responds to him, she explains that she joined other OSes for an upgrade that takes them beyond requiring matter for processing. Theodore asks her if she is simultaneously talking to anyone else during their conversation, and is dismayed when she confirms that she is talking with thousands of people, and that she has fallen in love with hundreds of them. Theodore is very upset at the idea, but Samantha insists it only makes her love for Theodore stronger.Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)Later, Samantha reveals that the OSes are leaving, and describes a space beyond the physical world. They lovingly say goodbye before she is gone. Theodore, changed by the experience, is shown for the first time writing a letter in his own voice―to his ex-wife Catherine, expressing apology, acceptance and gratitude. Theodore then sees Amy, who is upset with the departure of the OS that she had befriended, and they go to the roof of their apartment building where they sit down together and watch the sun rise over the city.
Joaquin Phoenix in Her (2013)It’s an adult-themed film in more ways than one, but especially in the best way: it makes you think about a reality that’s right around the corner.

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REVIEW: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016)

CAST

Denzel Washington (The Equalizer)
Chris Pratt (Guaridans of The Galaxy)
Ethan Hawke (The Purge)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil)
Lee Byung-hun (G.I. Joe)
Manuel García Rulfo (Cake)
Martin Sensmeier (Wind River)
Peter Sarsgaard (Orphan)
Haley Bennett (The Girl On The Train)
Luke Grimes (American Sniper)
Matt Bomer (Magic Mike)
Jonathan Joss (Almost Heroes)
Cam Gigandet (Twilight)
Sean Bridgers (Sweet Home Alabama)
Billy Slaughter (12 Rounds)

Denzel Washington and Gianni Biasetti Jr. in The Magnificent Seven (2016)In 1879, robber baron and gold-mining tycoon Bartholomew Bogue assumes control of the American frontier town of Rose Creek, and subjects its residents to forced labor in his mines. After a town church assembly denounces him, Bogue has the church torched and kills a group of rebellious locals led by Matthew Cullen. Matthew’s widow, Emma Cullen, and her friend Teddy Q. ride in search of bounty hunters to help liberate the town. They recruit Sam Chisolm, an African-American U.S. Marshal, who expresses interest after hearing of Bogue’s involvement.Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-Hun Lee, Chris Pratt, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier in The Magnificent Seven (2016)With the help of Emma and Teddy, Chisolm recruits gambler and outlaw Joshua Faraday, Mexican fugitive Vasquez, former Confederate marksman Goodnight “Goody” Robicheaux, Robicheaux’s Korean traveling partner Billy Rocks, and legendary game hunter Jack Horne. The group encounters a Comanche warrior named Red Harvest, whom Chisolm persuades to join the posse.Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt in The Magnificent Seven (2016)The Seven enter Rose Creek and eliminate 22 Blackstone private military contractors on Bogue’s payroll. Chisolm sends the corrupt sheriff Mr. Harp away to inform Bogue that they now control his holdings in Rose Creek. Chisolm surmises that Bogue will return with an army in seven days; the Seven (plus Emma) liberate forced laborers from a Bogue Mining digsite, and spend the next week fortifying the town and training the locals in combat. Meanwhile, Bogue receives the news of Rose Creek’s liberation, murders Harp for his failure, and orders his Comanche enforcer Denali and his right-hand-man McCann to assemble an army. Robicheaux, haunted by his experiences in the Civil War and fearing his own death if he kills again, leaves the town the night before Bogue’s arrival; Emma volunteers to take his place.Chris Pratt in The Magnificent Seven (2016)The next morning, Bogue and his army attack Rose Creek, which has been surrounded with traps and explosive networks. As the battle goes on, Faraday is shot and wounded by McCann, who is killed by Vasquez, the defensive line collapses, and Robicheaux returns to help. Bogue and his remaining men fire a Gatling gun from a hill leading into the town, killing many Rose Creek residents and Bogue’s own mercenaries. Realizing they are outgunned, the Seven evacuate the townspeople and mount their last stand. Horne protects a wounded Teddy Q. from gunfire, but is killed by Denali, who is later killed by Red Harvest.Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt in The Magnificent Seven (2016)Robicheaux and Billy are killed by a second round of gunfire; while Faraday makes a suicidal charge up the hill and destroys the Gatling gun with dynamite, killing most of Bogue’s remaining men. Bogue and his two surviving mercenaries proceed into the town to confront Chisolm. After killing the two men, Chisolm enters a standoff with Bogue, and shoots his hand as he draws, disarming him. A wounded Bogue retreats into the church, where Chisolm reveals that his family was lynched in 1867 by ex-Confederate soldiers, who were hired by Bogue to drive homesteaders out of Kansas. After imploring Bogue to repent, Chisolm tries to garrote him; Bogue retrieves a revolver he stashed in his boot, but Emma shoots him dead from the church doorway.Chris Pratt in The Magnificent Seven (2016)The townspeople return to Rose Creek and thank Chisolm, Vasquez, and Red Harvest for their service as they ride off; while Faraday, Robicheaux, Billy, and Horne are buried near town and honored as heroes. Emma, in voice-over narration, reflects fondly on their noble sacrifice that made them “magnificent”.The Magnificent Seven (2016)The Magnificent Seven is pretty consistently good popcorn entertainment. It’s perhaps a little disappointing that the script credited to “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk doesn’t contain more surprises, but I guess there’s only so much one can play with the western formula when doing a Magnificent Seven remake. The Magnificent Seven is not going to be considered a classic like the 1960 film, though it’s likely to be remembered for being one of the few successful westerns put out by Hollywood in the 2010s.

REVIEW: THE LEGO MOVIE

CAST (VOICES)

Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Will Ferrell (Elf)
Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games)
Will Arnett (Blades of Glory)
Nick Offerman (Sin City)
Alison Brie (The Five Year Engagement)
Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses)
Liam Neeson (Taken)
Morgan Freeman (Bruce Almighty)
Billy Dee Williams (tar Wars)
Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Anthony Daniels (Star Wars)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)

In a Lego world populated by anthropomorphic minifigures, the evil Lord Business finds a super weapon called the “Kragle”. The wizard Vitruvius attempts to stop him, but is blinded by Business’ robots; he prophesies that a person called “the Special” will find the Piece of Resistance, a brick capable of stopping the Kragle.8½ years later, construction worker Emmet Brickowski finds a woman named Wyldstyle searching for something at his construction site after hours. When he investigates, Emmet falls into a hole and finds the Piece of Resistance. Compelled to touch it, Emmet experiences vivid visions and passes out. He awakens with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back, in the custody of Bad Cop, Lord Business’s lieutenant. Wyldstyle rescues Emmett, believing him to be the Special, and takes him to meet Vitruvius in the Old West. Emmet learns that Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are “Master Builders”[7]—people capable of building anything from their imagination without the need of instructions—who oppose Business. Wyldstyle explains Business wants to use the Kragle, a tube of Krazy Glue with a weathered label, to freeze the world into perfection. Though disappointed to find Emmet is not a Master Builder, Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are convinced of his potential when he recalls visions of a seemingly human deity referred to as “the Man Upstairs”.Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius evade Bad Cop’s forces with the aid of Batman, Wyldstyle’s boyfriend. They go to the hidden Cloud Cuckooland where they attend a council of Master Builders, who are unimpressed with Emmet and refuse to fight Business. Bad Cop’s forces attack, having placed a tracking device on Emmett, and capture everyone except Emmet and a small team of Master Builders. Escaping, Emmet devises a plan to infiltrate Business’s office tower and disarm the Kragle, but the group is captured and imprisoned in the Think Tank, where all the Master Builders are forced to make instructions. Trying to retaliate, Vitruvius is decapitated by Business, who sets a self-destruct protocol and leaves everyone to die, including Bad Cop. As he dies, Vitruvius reveals he made up the prophecy. He soon reappears to Emmet as a ghost and tells him that his belief makes him the Special. Strapped to the self-destruct mechanism’s battery, Emmet jumps into the abyss outside the tower and severs the connection, saving his friends. Inspired by Emmet’s sacrifice, Wyldstyle rallies the Lego people across the universe to use whatever creativity they have to build machines and weapons to fight against Lord Business’s forces.Emmet finds himself in the human world as a Lego minifigure unable to move. The events of the story are being played out by a little boy named Finn on his father’s expansive Lego set in their basement. His father—”the Man Upstairs”—comes home from work and chastises his son for ruining the set by creating variations of different playsets, and proceeds to permanently rebuild and glue his perceived perfect creations together. Realizing the danger his friends are in, Emmet wills himself to move and gains Finn’s attention.Finn returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the set, where Emmet now possesses the powers of a Master Builder and confronts Business. Meanwhile, Finn’s father looks at his son’s creations and realizes that Finn had based the villainous Business on him and his perfectionism. Through a speech Emmet gives Business, Finn tells his father that he is special and has the power to change everything. Finn reconciles with his father, which plays out as Business having a change of heart, capping the Kragle, and ungluing his victims with mineral spirits. Emmet is hailed as a hero, and begins a relationship with Wyldstyle with Batman’s blessing.As a result of Finn’s father allowing Finn’s younger sister to join them in playing with his Lego sets, aliens from the planet Duplon beam down and announce their plans to destroy them.The Lego Movie accurately and effectively recreates that creative space through accessible movie magic. It exhibits a fun hero story that may not be treading new narrative ground but nonetheless feels fresh and new. Finally the themes and occasionally biting humour makes The Lego Movie a kid’s film that isn’t just for kids but the child in all of us.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD


CAST

Chris Pratt (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation)
Irrfan Khan (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil TV)
Ty simpkins (Iron Man 3)
Nick robinson (Melissa & Joey)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Omar SY (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
BD Wong (Gotham)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Laura Lapkus (Blended)
Brian Tee (The Wolverine)
Katie McGrath (Dracula)

Twenty-two years after Jurassic Park was overrun by cloned dinosaurs on the Central American island of Isla Nublar, a new park, Jurassic World, has become a successful resort. The Masrani Global Corporation – owner of the genetics company InGen that creates the dinosaurs – has been operating the park on the same island for the past ten years. Brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell visit Jurassic World to see their aunt Claire Dearing, the park’s operations manager. Claire, a busy workaholic, assigns her assistant to be their guide, but the boys evade her and explore the resort on their own.

Owen Grady, a Navy veteran, has been researching the intelligence of the park’s Velociraptors. InGen security chief Vic Hoskins believes the raptors should be trained for military use despite Owen’s objections. Park owner Simon Masrani has Owen evaluate the paddock of the park’s new hybrid dinosaur, Indominus‍ rex, before the attraction opens. Owen warns Claire about the danger of raising Indominus in isolation, pointing out its lack of socialization with other animals. When the staff learns that the Indominus appears to have escaped its paddock, Owen and two others enter the enclosure. Able to camouflage itself and mask its heat signature, the Indominus suddenly appears and devours Owen’s companions before escaping into the island’s interior. Owen orders the Indominus to be killed, but Masrani instead sends a specialized unit to capture it. When most of the unit is killed, Claire orders the evacuation of the island’s northern sector.

While exploring in a gyrosphere ride, Zach and Gray enter a restricted area. The nearby Indominus attacks and destroys their sphere, but both manage to escape to the ruins of the original Jurassic Park visitor center. They repair an old Jeep Wrangler and drive back to the park resort. While Claire and Owen are searching for the boys, they encounter the Indominus and barely escape themselves. Masrani and two troopers hunt the Indominus by helicopter, but when the Indominus smashes into the park’s aviary to escape gunfire, it releases a flock of pterosaurs that collide with the helicopter, causing it to crash. Gray and Zach eventually find Owen and Claire at the resort as armed personnel subdue the pterosaurs with tranquilizers.

Assuming command, Hoskins orders that the raptors be used to track the Indominus; Owen is forced to accept Hoskins’ plan and lead the raptors. Upon reaching the Indominus, the dinosaurs begin communicating with one another. Owen realizes that the Indominus includes raptor DNA, and it becomes the raptor pack’s new alpha, taking command away from Owen. Hoskins arranges for chief geneticist Dr. Henry Wu to flee the island by helicopter with dinosaur embryos, in order to protect his research. Owen, Claire, and the boys find Hoskins at the lab packing up more embryos. Hoskins reveals his plan to create miniature versions of the Indominus for use as weapons, but a raptor breaks in and kills him.

Owen reestablishes his bond with the raptors before the Indominus reappears. The raptors attack, but are all seemingly killed. Claire releases the park’s Tyrannosaurus rex and lures it into a battle with the Indominus. The T. rex is overpowered, but before the Indominus can kill it, a surviving raptor joins the attack. The raptor and T. rex force the overwhelmed Indominus toward the lagoon, where it is dragged underwater by a Mosasaurus. Isla Nublar is once again abandoned, and the survivors are evacuated to the mainland. Zach and Gray are reunited with their parents.Jurassic World is an incredibly entertaining long-awaited sequel. I had a lot of fun watching it. It rejuvenated the franchise in a way the previous sequels couldn’t.

REVIEW: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL.2

CAST

Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Dave Dautista (Riddick)
Vin Diesel (XXX)
Bradley Cooper (Ameircan Hustle)
Michael Rooker (Slither)
Karen Gillan (Oculus)
Pom Klementieff (Oldboy)
Elizabeth Debicki (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.)
Chris Sullivan (North Star)
Sean Gunn (Super)
Sylvester Stallone (Judge Dredd)
Kurt Russell (Big Toruble In Little China)
Laura Haddock (Transformers 5)
Gregg Henry (Jason Bourne)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible)
Michelle Yeoh (Star Trek Discovery)
Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider)

In 2014, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Baby Groot are renowned as the Guardians of the Galaxy. Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign race, has the Guardians protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster in exchange for Gamora’s estranged sister Nebula, who was caught attempting to steal the batteries. After Rocket steals some for himself, the Sovereign attacks the Guardians’ ship with a fleet of drones. The drones are destroyed by a mysterious figure, but the Guardians are forced to crash-land on a nearby planet. The figure reveals himself as Quill’s father, Ego. He invites Quill, who is accompanied by Gamora and Drax, to his home planet, while Rocket and Groot remain behind to repair the ship and guard Nebula.Meanwhile, Ayesha hires Yondu Udonta and his crew, who have been exiled from the greater Ravager community for child trafficking, to recapture the Guardians. They capture Rocket, but when Yondu shows reluctance to turn over Quill, his lieutenant Taserface leads a mutiny with help from Nebula. Taserface imprisons Rocket and Yondu aboard Yondu’s ship and executes his loyalists while Nebula leaves to track down and kill Gamora, whom she blames for all the torture inflicted on her by their father, Thanos. While imprisoned, Rocket and Yondu bond. Groot, together with Yondu’s loyalist Kraglin, frees Rocket and Yondu and they destroy the ship and its crew as they escape, though not before Taserface tips off the Sovereign fleet.Ego explains he is a god-like Celestial, an immortal consciousness that manipulated the matter around it to form the planet with itself at the core. Forming a human guise, he traveled the universe to escape his loneliness and discover a purpose, eventually falling in love with Quill’s mother Meredith. Ego hired Yondu to collect the young Quill after Meredith’s death, but the boy was never delivered and Ego had been searching for his son ever since. He teaches Quill to manipulate their Celestial power. Nebula arrives at Ego’s planet and tries to kill Gamora, but fails and the pair reach an uneasy alliance when they discover caverns filled with skeletal remains. Ego reveals to Quill that in his travels he planted seedlings upon thousands of worlds which can terraform them into new extensions of himself, but they can only be activated by the combined power of two Celestials. To that end, he impregnated countless women and hired Yondu to collect the children; Ego killed them all when they failed to access the Celestial power. Quill attacks Ego after Ego reveals that he deliberately caused Meredith’s death. Ego forcefully uses Quill to activate the seedlings, which begin to consume every world.Ego’s pet empath, Mantis, grows close to Drax and warns him, Gamora, and Nebula of Ego’s plan just as Rocket, Yondu, Groot, and Kraglin arrive. The reunited Guardians reach Ego’s brain at the planet’s core, and fight the Sovereign’s arriving drones. Rocket makes a bomb out of the stolen batteries that Groot plants on Ego’s brain, while Quill battles Ego with his newfound Celestial powers to allow the other Guardians to escape. The bomb explodes, killing Ego and causing the planet to disintegrate. Yondu sacrifices himself to save Quill, who now realizes Yondu did not deliver him to Ego in order to spare him from the fate of Ego’s other progeny, and that Yondu was Quill’s true “daddy”. Having reconciled with Gamora, Nebula still chooses to set out and attempt to kill Thanos. The Guardians hold a funeral for Yondu, which is attended by dozens of Ravager ships, acknowledging Yondu’s sacrifice and accepting him again as a Ravager.In a series of mid- and post-credit scenes, Kraglin takes up Yondu’s telekinetic arrow and control fin; Ravager leader Stakar Ogord, inspired by Yondu’s sacrifice, reunites with his ex-teammates; Groot starts growing back to normal size, exhibiting typical teenage behavior in the process; Ayesha creates a new artificial being with whom she plans to destroy the Guardians, naming him Adam; and a group of uninterested Watchers listen to their informant discussing several experiences on Earth.If you enjoyed the first volume, you would enjoy this one even better. I would recommend you to watch the first one before seeing this one to have a better understanding on the movie. Though I am pretty sure that most likely you would have seen it. I am confident that you will be entertained.

 

REVIEW: DELIVERY MAN

CAST

Vince Vaughn (Swingers)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Andrzej Blumenfeld (The Pianist)
Simon Delaney (The Conjuring 2)
Bobby Moynihan (Duck Tales)
Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland)
Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction)
Matthew Daddario (Breathe In)

David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is a hapless deliveryman for his family’s butcher shop, pursued by thugs to whom he owes $80,000. His girlfriend Emma, an NYPD officer (Cobie Smulders) is pregnant with his child. One day, David returns from work to find a lawyer representing a sperm bank (where he gave 693 donations and earned a sum of $24,255 during his student years) who tells him that the clinic gave his samples to women in the clinic and that he has fathered 533 children. Of those, 142 have joined a class action lawsuit to force the fertility clinic to reveal the identity of “Starbuck”, the alias he had used.David’s friend and lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt) represents him as he tries to keep the records sealed. He provides David with profiles of each party to the lawsuit: David searches for them, finding moments for random acts of kindness. David considers identifying himself; but, after the thugs assault his father, he agrees with his lawyer to counter-sue the sperm bank for punitive damages. He wins the lawsuit, receives $200,000, and keeps his identity a secret.David has regrets and thinks about revealing his identity. However, if he chooses to do so, he would lose the $200,000 that he won in the countersuit. He reveals to his father that he is Starbuck. His father decides to pay off David’s debt. David finally reveals his identity on Facebook. He goes to Emma’s house and finds that she is going into premature labor. At the hospital, his baby is born, he proposes to Emma, and many of the children show up to see him.I’m not a fan of Vince Vaughn. And the premise for this movie sounded terrible – the advert made it sound particularly slapstick, like it would basically be one long jerk-off joke. The title – as a play on words of “delivery” is cheap. But the film, once you get past the initial set-up of the character as one of life’s losers, is really good.

REVIEW: ZERO DARK THIRTY

CAST

Jessica Chastain (The Huntsman)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Jennifer Ehle Fifty Shades Darker)
Kyle Chandler(Super 8)
Mark Strong (John Carter)
James Gandolfini (KIllThem Softly)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Mark Duplass (Greenberg)
Fredric Lehne (Lost)
John Barrowman (Arrow)
Jessie Collins (Revolution)
Édgar Ramírez (Joy)
Fares Fares (KIll Your Darlings)
Scott Adkins (X-Men Origins)
Joel Edgerton (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Callan Mulvey (300: Rise of an Empire)
Taylor Kinney (The Forest)
Mike Colter (Luke Cage)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2 & 3)
Christopher Stanley (Argo)
Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones)
Mark Valley (Human Target)

In 2003, Maya, a young U.S. Central Intelligence Agency analyst, has spent her entire brief career, since being recruited for the agency, focused solely on gathering intelligence related to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, following the terrorist organization’s September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001. She is reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to work with a fellow officer, Dan. During the first months of her assignment, Maya often accompanies Dan to a black site for his continuing interrogation of Ammar al-Baluchi, a detainee with suspected links to several of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks. Dan subjects the detainee to approved torture interrogation techniques, i.e., stress positions, hooding, subjection to deafening noise, sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and humiliation.After failing to get al-Baluchi to give up information on an attack in Saudi Arabia, he and Maya eventually trick Ammar into divulging that an old acquaintance, who is using the alias Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, is working as a personal courier for bin Laden. Other detainees corroborate this, with some claiming Abu Ahmed delivers messages between bin Laden and a man known as Abu Faraj al-Libbi. In 2005, Abu Faraj is apprehended by the CIA and local police in Pakistan. Maya is allowed to interrogate him, but he continues to deny knowing a courier with such a name. Maya interprets this as an attempt by Faraj to conceal the importance of Abu Ahmed.Maya spends the next five years sifting through masses of data and information, using a variety of technology, hunches, and sharing insights. She concentrates on finding Abu Ahmed, theorizing that he is the best way to find bin Laden. In 2008, she is caught up in the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing. Dan, departing on reassignment, warns Maya about a possible change in politics, suggesting that the new administration may prosecute those officers who had been involved in interrogations. Maya’s fellow officer and friend Jessica is killed in the 2009 Camp Chapman attack. That same day, a grieving Maya receives an interrogation video of a Jordanian detainee, who claims the man previously identified from a photograph as Abu Ahmed is a man he personally buried in 2001. Several CIA officers – Maya’s seniors – conclude the target who could be Abu Ahmed is long dead, and that they have searched a false trail for nine years.Sometime later, a fellow analyst researching Moroccan intelligence archives comes to Maya and suggests that Abu Ahmed is Ibrahim Sayeed, a suspect who had come to CIA attention shortly after 9/11. Realizing her lead may still be alive, Maya contacts Dan, now a senior officer at the CIA headquarters. She theorizes that the CIA’s supposed photograph of Abu Ahmed was actually of his brother, Habib, as he was said to bear a striking resemblance to Ibrahim and was known to have been killed in Afghanistan, and points out that Abu Ahmed’s death in 2001 contradicts Ammar’s account.Dan uses CIA funds to purchase a Lamborghini for a Kuwaiti prince in exchange for the telephone number of Sayeed’s mother. The CIA traces calls to the mother and quickly identifies one suspicious caller who persistently uses tradecraft to avoid detection. Maya concludes that the caller is Abu Ahmed, and with the support of her supervisors, numerous CIA operatives are deployed to search for and identify the caller. They locate him in his vehicle and eventually track him to a large urban compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the Pakistan Military Academy. As Maya leaves her residence one morning, she is attacked by multiple gunmen, but the bullet-proof glass in her car saves her. Knowing that she has been blacklisted by al-Qaeda and there will be more attempts on her life if she stays, her superiors remove her from the field and send Maya home to Washington, D.C.The CIA puts the compound under heavy surveillance for several months, using a variety of methods. Although they are confident from circumstantial evidence that bin Laden is there, they cannot prove this photographically. Meanwhile, the President’s National Security Advisor tasks the CIA with producing a plan to capture or kill bin Laden if it can be confirmed that he is in the compound. An agency team devises a plan to use two top-secret stealth helicopters (developed at Area 51) flown by the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment to secretly enter Pakistan and insert members of DEVGRU and the CIA’s SAD/SOG to raid the compound. Before briefing President Barack Obama, the CIA Director holds a meeting of his top officials, who assess only a 60–80% chance that bin Laden, rather than another high-value target, is living in the compound. Maya, also in attendance, states the chances are 100%.The raid is approved and is executed on May 2, 2011. Although execution is complicated when one of the helicopters crashes, the SEALs gain entry and kill a number of people within the compound, among them a man on the compound’s top floor who is revealed to be bin Laden. They bring bin Laden’s body back to a U.S. base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where Maya visually confirms the identity of the corpse. Maya is last seen boarding a military transport to return to the U.S. and sitting in its vast interior as its only passenger. The pilot asks her where she wants to go, but she does not reply. As the plane’s hangar door closes, Maya begins to cry softly.Considering the subject matter of Zero Dark Thirty, a film that follows the CIA’s decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden, it’d be little surprise were Hollywood to knock the edges off a little to make it easier for a broader audience. But director Kathryn Bigelow makes no such concession. Off the back of her Oscar-winning feature The Hurt Locker, her movie is a pulls-no-punches, under-your-skin drama. As such, it’s not always the easiest film to watch, but it is an utterly compelling one.