157 minutes, U.S.A., 2012, Colour, D-Cinema

Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal, the team behind The Hurt Locker, expand their ambitions in this epic account of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Forget any notions of triumphalism now however, since the film offers a bracing depiction of the torture, bureaucratic dithering and outright good fortune which led to the CIA mission’s lethal closure in May 2011, as well as the sacrifices suffered by agency staff along the way.

There may be some dramatic licence involved in putting Jessica Chastain’s dedicated field officer at the heart of the action, yet first-hand accounts shaped the film’s research and it certainly makes for compellingly credible viewing across its 157 minutes. Indeed, just as Chastain’s character shows monomaniacal concentration on the task at hand, so Bigelow’s direction proceeds with laser-like intensity, cumulatively delivering a ferociously unsentimental procedural drama which will stand as a requiem for a singular era in American history – fuelled by strategic purpose, mired in moral doubt. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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