Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

R | 157 mins | 2012

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HISTORY

Kill Bin Laden was a working title for the project, as stated in a 13 May 2011 HR article.
       The film begins with a title card containing the written statement, “The following motion picture is based on first hand accounts of actual events,” followed by a title card stating, “September 11, 2001.”
       End credits contain “Special Thanks” to the following organizations: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India; Administration of Union Territory of Chandigarh; Chandigarh Police; PEC University of Technology Chandigarh (formerly Punjab Engineering College); Royal Film Commission, Jordan; and Pinewood Shepperton Studios. Producers also thank the following individuals and organizations: 5.11, Inc.; Apple; Atlantic Signal; Cyalume Technologies; Daniel Winkler; Ducati; Garmin; General Dynamics; Inert Products; K9 Storm; Leatherman Tool Group; London Bridge Trading Company; Modern Warfare, LLC; Ops-Core; Salomon; Suunto; Thales Communications; VT Miltope; Wendy Abney; Roeg Sutherland; Bryan Lourd; Brian Kend; Darin Friedman; Brian Siberell; Sally Willcox; Alan Wertheimer; Warren Dern; Kevin Huvane; Spencer Coursen; Bill Duchene; and Glover Park Group. End credits also contain the written statement, “Photos provided by Getty Images,” followed by the following acknowledgement: “Video and audio clips provided by ITN Source, AP Archive, T3Media/CBS News, ABCNews Videosource, Fox News Archive, ITN Source/Reuters, Outpost Films, NBC Universal Archives.”
       A 14 Jan 2011 DV article reported that Annapurna Pictures would finance the film, and a 25 May 2011 HR news item announced that Columbia Pictures would handle the U. S. release, with principal photography set to begin early summer 2011. Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal had been working on a bigger budget film for Paramount Pictures, titled Triple Frontier, but ... More Less

Kill Bin Laden was a working title for the project, as stated in a 13 May 2011 HR article.
       The film begins with a title card containing the written statement, “The following motion picture is based on first hand accounts of actual events,” followed by a title card stating, “September 11, 2001.”
       End credits contain “Special Thanks” to the following organizations: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India; Administration of Union Territory of Chandigarh; Chandigarh Police; PEC University of Technology Chandigarh (formerly Punjab Engineering College); Royal Film Commission, Jordan; and Pinewood Shepperton Studios. Producers also thank the following individuals and organizations: 5.11, Inc.; Apple; Atlantic Signal; Cyalume Technologies; Daniel Winkler; Ducati; Garmin; General Dynamics; Inert Products; K9 Storm; Leatherman Tool Group; London Bridge Trading Company; Modern Warfare, LLC; Ops-Core; Salomon; Suunto; Thales Communications; VT Miltope; Wendy Abney; Roeg Sutherland; Bryan Lourd; Brian Kend; Darin Friedman; Brian Siberell; Sally Willcox; Alan Wertheimer; Warren Dern; Kevin Huvane; Spencer Coursen; Bill Duchene; and Glover Park Group. End credits also contain the written statement, “Photos provided by Getty Images,” followed by the following acknowledgement: “Video and audio clips provided by ITN Source, AP Archive, T3Media/CBS News, ABCNews Videosource, Fox News Archive, ITN Source/Reuters, Outpost Films, NBC Universal Archives.”
       A 14 Jan 2011 DV article reported that Annapurna Pictures would finance the film, and a 25 May 2011 HR news item announced that Columbia Pictures would handle the U. S. release, with principal photography set to begin early summer 2011. Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal had been working on a bigger budget film for Paramount Pictures, titled Triple Frontier, but due to scheduling difficulties, the pair decided to shoot Zero Dark Thirty first. According to the 13 May 2011 HR, the budget would be $20-25 million; however, a 16 Mar 2012 HR article later reported that the production cost $35 million.
       According to production notes from AMPAS library files, the screenplay originated in 2006 as a story about the failed attempt to capture Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora, Afghanistan. In 2011, however, when the project was in pre-production, bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives in Abbottabad, Pakistan, thus prompting Mark Boal to rewrite the script. Certain bits of dialogue in Zero Dark Thirty, including actor Mark Strong’s line, “Do your jobs, bring me people to kill,” were taken directly from reports of real-life CIA meetings.
       Although filmmakers planned to begin principal photography in Jordan, they were forced to leave during pre-production for undisclosed reasons, according to the 16 Mar 2012 HR article. Filming began 28 Feb 2012 in India, where the PEC University of Technology in Chandigarh doubled for the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. Due to the large crowds that would arrive to watch the cast and crew work, production would sometimes set up “fake shoots” to draw onlookers while the actual shooting would take place elsewhere. Filming eventually moved to Jordan, where bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound was recreated by production designer Jeremy Hindle and built by locals from a village near the Dead Sea who would have similar building styles to those in Pakistan. Construction lasted six months, with an additional six weeks of “painting, texturing, layering, cracking, [and] breaking” different parts of the compound to achieve a “lived-in look.”
       Arri Alexa digital cameras were used throughout the production. Bigelow described the cameras in production notes as “wonderfully sensitive to light,” and the resulting visual texture as “faintly granular...yet [with] a color latitude that can create a very dense, saturated, lush images.”
       To recreate the stealth “Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters” that were utilized in the Abbottabad mission, Hindle studied “various sketches and photographs” that appeared after the raid and worked with helicopter and avionics experts to approximate the top-secret aircraft. The production helicopters were made in London from fiberglass and steel and shipped in pieces to Jordan for assembly. For a sequence in which one of the Black Hawks crashes, a helicopter was hung from a 200-foot crane so that it could spin with actors and cameramen inside.
       As announced in an 11 Aug 2011 LAT article, Peter King, a Republican Representative from New York and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called for an investigation into Zero Dark Thirty, believing that the filmmakers were given classified information by the government as part of their research and concerned that the film would reveal too much about the top-secret operations used in the Abbottabad raid. According to a 6 Jan 2012 LAT brief, King’s suspicions were incited by a 6 Aug 2011 NYT article written by Maureen Dowd that touted the “top-level access” that the filmmakers had been given to “the most classified mission in history.” King was also concerned about the planned release of the film three weeks prior to 6 Nov 2012 might influence the U. S. presidential election. (The release date was later moved to 19 Dec 2012, as mentioned in the 24 May 2012 DV. ) According to a 30 Nov 2012 DV article, a “watchdog” organization called Judicial Watch requested email correspondence between the filmmakers and the White House and found that four operatives from the CIA and a Navy SEAL were interviewed by the filmmakers with the government’s help; although the interviews were not inherently a breach of the Freedom of Information Act, a representative from the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press expressed suspicion that the filmmakers were privy to information that was not released to the public. A congressional hearing took place, as reported in the 21 Jun 2012 HR, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified that “no unauthorized disclosures” had been made to the Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers.
       Critical reception was largely positive. Bigelow’s direction and the film’s realistic approach to storytelling were lauded by several reviewers, including Manohla Dargis of NYT, who, in her 18 Dec 2012 review, described it as “a seamless weave of truth and drama” and “the most important American fiction movie about Sept. 11.” Actress Jessica Chastain also received high praise for her starring role.
       Zero Dark Thirty was named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year and Jessica Chastain received a Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actress in Motion Picture - Drama. The film received an Academy Award for Sound Editing, and the following Academy Award nominations: Best Picture; Actress in a Leading Role (Jessica Chastain); Film Editing; and Best Original Screenplay. The film also received Golden Globe nominations for: Best Motion Picture – Drama; Best Director – Motion Picture; and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. The film won National Board of Review awards in the following categories: Best Film; Best Director; and Best Actress (Jessica Chastain). It was also named the Best Film of 2012 by the New York Film Critics Circle, who named Bigelow as Best Director and Greig Fraser for Best Cinematography. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Dec 2010
p. 1, 50.
Daily Variety
14 Jan 2011
p. 1, 58.
Daily Variety
24 May 2012.
---
Daily Variety
26 Nov 2012
p. 1, 13.
Daily Variety
30 Nov 2012.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 2011.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 2011.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 2012.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 2012
pp. 7-8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 2012.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 2012.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 May 2011
Section D, p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
11 Aug 2011
Section AA, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
6 Jan 2012.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 May 2012.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 2012.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Dec 2012.
---
Los Angeles Times
19 Dec 2012
Section D, p. 1.
New York Times
26 May 2010.
---
New York Times
18 Dec 2012
p. 1.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Detainees on monitor:
Interrogators on monitor:
[and]
DEVGRU operators:
[and]
[and]
UBL wives:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mark Boal Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit 1st asst dir
2d unit 2d asst dir
2d asst dir, Jordan unit
2d 2d asst dir, Jordan unit
1st asst dir, Jordan unit
2d asst dir, Jordan unit
Unit prod mgr, India unit
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Line prod, India unit
Assoc prod, India unit
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Unit photog
Digital imaging tech
Digital imaging tech
Digilab tech
Digilab tech
2d asst cam, Jordan unit
2d asst cam, Jordan unit
Gaffer, Jordan unit
Elec, Jordan unit
Rigging gaffer, Jordan unit
Practical elec, Jordan unit
Practical elec, Jordan unit
Elec rigger, Jordan unit
Elec rigger, Jordan unit
Best boy grip, Jordan unit
Best boy grip, Jordan unit
Key rigging grip, Jordan unit
Unit photog asst, Jordan unit
Best boy grip, India unit
Gaffer, India unit
Elec best boy, UK unit
Key grip, UK unit
2d unit cam op
2d unit cam op
2d unit 1st asst cam
2d unit 1st asst cam
2d unit 2d asst cam
2d unit 2d asst cam
2d unit video assist
2d unit gaffer
Aerial cam op - Jordan, Aerial unit
Aerial cam op - Jordan, Aerial unit
Ground aerial coord - Jordan, Aerial unit
Wescam tech - Jordan, Aerial unit
Eclipse tech - Jordan, Aerial unit
Aerial coord/Cam pilot - U.S., Aerial unit
Aerial dir of photog - U.S., Aerial unit
Grip and elec equip provided by
Eclipse, Cineflex and Wescam cam systems provided
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir
Graphic artist
Art dir, Jordan unit
Asst art dir, Jordan unit
Art dir, India unit
Graphics, India unit
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
Visual eff ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec
Prod buyer
Prop master
Prop master
Chargehand dressing
On-set props
Props
Armorer, Jordan unit
Asst armorer, Jordan unit
Const mgr, Jordan unit
Asst const mgr, Jordan unit
Const coord, Jordan unit
Scenic painter, Jordan unit
Scenic painter, Jordan unit
Prop buyer, Jordan unit
Prop buyer, Jordan unit
Signwriter, Jordan unit
Prop master, India unit
Propman, India unit
Set dec buyer, India unit
Prop master, UK unit
Const coord, UK unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Key cost
Set cost
Set cost
Ager/Dyer
Set cost, Jordan unit
Seamstress, Jordan unit
Cost asst, Jordan unit
Cost asst, Jordan unit
Cost supv, India unit
MUSIC
Mus/Mus comp and cond/Orch
Solo trumpet
Elec & acoustic cello
Violin/Score prod
Rec and mixed/Sd eng
Addl rec
Addl rec at
Paris
Rec at
London
Mixed at
Paris
Score mus ed
Auricle op
Score coord
Programming
Programming
Mus prep
Mus ed
Addl mus ed
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd des/Sd supv/Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd asst, Jordan unit
Sd mixer, 2d unit
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
ADR supv
Foley ed
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Loop group
Asst sd ed
Sd intern
Post sd facilities provided by
Culver City, California
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff on-set coord, Jordan unit
Spec eff tech, Jordan unit
Spec eff tech, Jordan unit
Spec eff tech, Jordan unit
Spec eff tech, Jordan unit
Stealth helicopter spec eff supv, Jordan unit
Spec eff workshop supv, Jordan unit
Spec eff workshop supv, Jordan unit
Senior tech, Jordan unit
Senior tech, Jordan unit
Senior tech, Jordan unit
Senior tech, Jordan unit
Visual eff
Visual eff supv, Image Engine
Visual eff plate supv, Image Engine
Visual eff prod, Image Engine
Visual eff exec prod, Image Engine
Visual eff coord, Image Engine
Visual eff on set matchmover, Image Engine
Asset supv, Image Engine
Modeller, Image Engine
Modeller, Image Engine
Texture artist, Image Engine
Texture artist, Image Engine
Rigger, Image Engine
Lead matchmover, Image Engine
Anim, Image Engine
Anim, Image Engine
Eff artist, Image Engine
Eff artist, Image Engine
Eff artist, Image Engine
Anim, Image Engine
Lighting/Look development lead, Image Engine
Lighting artist, Image Engine
Lighting artist, Image Engine
Lighting artist, Image Engine
Roto lead, Image Engine
Lead compositer, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Composite artist, Image Engine
Matte painter, Image Engine
Matte painter, Image Engine
Visual eff
Compositing supv, Arch 9 Films
Compositor, Arch 9 Films
Visual eff supv, XY & Z
Compositor, XY & Z
Compositor, XY & Z
Title des
MAKEUP
Key make-up and hair des
Key make-up and hair artist
Make-up and hair artist
Hairdresser, Jordan unit
Make-up artist, Jordan unit
Asst make-up artist, Jordan unit
Key make-up/Hairdresser, India unit
Key make-up/Hair artist, 2d unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Prod controller
1st asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Computer playback
U. K. casting assoc
U. K. casting assoc
U. S. casting assoc
Asst to Ms. Bigelow
Loc security
Prod supv, Jordan unit
Prod mgr, Jordan unit
Prod secy, Jordan unit
2d asst accountant, Jordan unit
Casting, Jordan unit
Picture car coord, Jordan unit
Picture car asst, Jordan unit
Picture car asst, Jordan unit
Loc mgr, Jordan unit
Unit mgr, Jordan unit
Tech adv, Jordan unit
Military liaison, Jordan unit
Transportation capt, Jordan unit
Catering chef, Jordan unit
Catering furnished by, Jordan unit
Casting, India unit
Dial coach, India unit
Prod mgr, India unit
Mumbai coord, India unit
Delhi coord, India unit
Loc mgr, India unit
Transportation capt, India unit
Travel coord, India unit
Picture vehicles, India unit
Catering head, India unit
Prod services (India) provided by, India unit
Loc mgr, UK unit
Unit mgr, UK unit
Prod coord, UK unit
Post prod asst
Post prod accounting services
Post prod accountant, Trevanna Post
Asst accountant, Trevanna Post
Prod legal services
Production placement
Product placement coord, Stone Management
Product placement coord, Stone Management
Aerial services provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Asst stunt coord
Stunt rigger
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate
Col, Company 3
Digital intermediate prod, Company 3
Digital conform, Company 3
Digital conform, Company 3
[Col by]
SOURCES
SONGS
"Pavlov's Dogs," written by Charles Maggio, Keith Huckins, Andrew Gormley, Nick Forte and Chris Laucella, performed by Rorschach, courtesy of Gern Blandsten Records
"Pyaar Hai Tumse," written by Amir Jamal, Nasir Hussain, Nasir Ali Nasir, performed by Amir Jamal, courtesy of Kamlee Records Limited, by arrangement with The Orchard
"Move Ya Body," written by Full Force, Lionel Bermingham, Elijah Wells, Cordel Burrell, Natalie Albino, Nicole Albino and Luis Diaz, performed by Nina Sky featuring Jabba, courtesy of Universal Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises, contains sample of "Coolie Dance Rhythm" by Cordell "Scatta" Burrell, courtesy of Greensleeves Records Ltd., license arranged by Fine Goldproductions L.L.C.
+
SONGS
"Pavlov's Dogs," written by Charles Maggio, Keith Huckins, Andrew Gormley, Nick Forte and Chris Laucella, performed by Rorschach, courtesy of Gern Blandsten Records
"Pyaar Hai Tumse," written by Amir Jamal, Nasir Hussain, Nasir Ali Nasir, performed by Amir Jamal, courtesy of Kamlee Records Limited, by arrangement with The Orchard
"Move Ya Body," written by Full Force, Lionel Bermingham, Elijah Wells, Cordel Burrell, Natalie Albino, Nicole Albino and Luis Diaz, performed by Nina Sky featuring Jabba, courtesy of Universal Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises, contains sample of "Coolie Dance Rhythm" by Cordell "Scatta" Burrell, courtesy of Greensleeves Records Ltd., license arranged by Fine Goldproductions L.L.C.
"Need You Now," written by Hillary Scott, Joshua Kear, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley, performed by Lady Antebellum, courtesy of Capitol Records Nashville, under license from EMI Film & Television Music
"Night Song," written by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, performed by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook, courtesy of Real World Records
"Rise Up (Featuring Tom Morello)," written by Senen Reyes, Louise Freese, Demrick Shelton Ferm and Thomas Morello, performed by Cypress Hill Feat. Tom Morello, courtesy of Capitol Records, L.L.C., under license from EMI Film & TV Music
"Murder (2012)," written by Jimmy Gnecco, performed by Ours, courtesy of Miseryhead Music, by arrangement with Revolution Songs.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Kill Bin Laden
Release Date:
2012
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 19 December 2012
Production Date:
began 28 February 2012
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital in selected theatres; Datasat Digital Sound; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound
Color
Lenses
Panavision camera and lenses
Duration(in mins):
157
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On September 11, 2001, commercial airplanes crash into two World Trade Center towers in an attack orchestrated by terrorist organization, al-Qaeda. Two years later, somewhere in the Middle East, Dan, an American agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), interrogates Ammar. Dan accuses Ammar, an al-Qaeda operative, of wiring $5,000 to a hijacker who took part in the September 11 attacks, and demands information on the “Saudi Group,” a terrorist cell associated with al-Qaeda. Ammar remains mum, prompting Dan to torture him via waterboarding. At the U. S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, Dan’s new colleague, Maya, recently arrived from Washington, D. C., settles into her new office. After Dan updates the embassy’s station chief, Joseph Bradley, on his progress with Ammar, he suggests to Bradley that Maya might be too young for their mission; however, Bradley says she has a reputation for being “a killer.” That day, Dan joins Maya in a meeting with fellow agents Jessica, Thomas, J. J., and Jack, to discuss their terrorist targets. Jessica reports that Abu Faraj al-Libbi is the new “number three” under Usama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s leader, and mentions a recent sighting of someone who may have been bin Laden near Tora Bora, Afghanistan. Maya rejects the idea that bin Laden is in Afghanistan, as she believes he has changed his pattern of hiding in Tora Bora since the U. S. invaded the country. One day, Dan provides Ammar with food and drink after he has been subjected to loud, harsh rock and roll music while hanging from his wrists. Despite Dan’s benevolence, Ammar continues to withhold information, so Dan humiliates the detainee, putting a collar around his neck and walking him ... +


On September 11, 2001, commercial airplanes crash into two World Trade Center towers in an attack orchestrated by terrorist organization, al-Qaeda. Two years later, somewhere in the Middle East, Dan, an American agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), interrogates Ammar. Dan accuses Ammar, an al-Qaeda operative, of wiring $5,000 to a hijacker who took part in the September 11 attacks, and demands information on the “Saudi Group,” a terrorist cell associated with al-Qaeda. Ammar remains mum, prompting Dan to torture him via waterboarding. At the U. S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, Dan’s new colleague, Maya, recently arrived from Washington, D. C., settles into her new office. After Dan updates the embassy’s station chief, Joseph Bradley, on his progress with Ammar, he suggests to Bradley that Maya might be too young for their mission; however, Bradley says she has a reputation for being “a killer.” That day, Dan joins Maya in a meeting with fellow agents Jessica, Thomas, J. J., and Jack, to discuss their terrorist targets. Jessica reports that Abu Faraj al-Libbi is the new “number three” under Usama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s leader, and mentions a recent sighting of someone who may have been bin Laden near Tora Bora, Afghanistan. Maya rejects the idea that bin Laden is in Afghanistan, as she believes he has changed his pattern of hiding in Tora Bora since the U. S. invaded the country. One day, Dan provides Ammar with food and drink after he has been subjected to loud, harsh rock and roll music while hanging from his wrists. Despite Dan’s benevolence, Ammar continues to withhold information, so Dan humiliates the detainee, putting a collar around his neck and walking him like a dog before cramming him into a wooden box. On May 29, 2004, in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, twenty-two people, mainly foreigners and non-Muslims, are shot and killed by al-Qaeda terrorists, and Dan laments that Ammar did not warn him about the attack. When Maya reminds Dan that Ammar has been sequestered and therefore does not know whether or not the attack took place, the two sit down with Ammar for lunch and thank him for providing them with the information to thwart the incident at Khobar. They convince Ammar that he provided key information about the impending attack but suggest that he forgot about telling them due to lack of sleep. In turn, Ammar offers a couple of terrorists’ names, including Abu Ahmed, with whom he operated after the September 11 attack. At a secret CIA “black site” in Gdansk [Danzig], Poland, a terrorist prisoner identifies Abu Ahmed in a photograph and tells Maya that Ahmed was a messenger between bin Laden and al-Libbi. On July 7, 2005, in London, England, a city bus is blown up in another terrorist attack. Meanwhile, Maya goes to a detention center run by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and learns from a detainee that Ahmed disappeared after September 11, just like bin Laden. Maya interrogates al-Libbi after he is caught, but he denies Ahmed’s existence, telling Maya she is thinking of someone else. Maya watches as al-Libbi is tortured and, later, informs Dan that al-Libbi is withholding. Dan announces his plans to leave the Middle East and work at CIA headquarters in Washington, D. C. Before he leaves, however, he warns Maya to be more prudent with torture methods as politics are changing and oversight committees will soon come to police the black sites. On September 20, 2008, at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Maya meets Jessica for dinner. As Jessica asks about Maya’s private life, a bomb explodes, sending everyone in the restaurant to the ground. Although Jessica and Maya escape, a television news report later states that the Marriott was destroyed by a truck bomb. Back at the embassy, Jessica tells Bradley about a mole in the al-Qaeda organization named Humam Khalil al-Balawi. She says al-Balawi is a Jordanian doctor and she has reason to think he is trustworthy, but Bradley remains suspicious of the man. When Jessica gets word that al-Balawi will not leave al-Qaeda territory, she agrees to sit down with him at Camp Chapman, a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. On the day of their meeting, December 30, 2009, al-Balawi detonates a bomb inside Camp Chapman, killing Jessica and seven other CIA operatives. Meanwhile, Maya gets word that Ahmed was killed in 2001, according to a detainee who claims to have murdered him. Debbie, a CIA analyst, provides Maya with a file on Ibrahim Sayeed, a man whose picture closely resembles that of “Ahmed,” although his appearance is slightly different. Sayeed has several brothers, sparking Maya’s belief that the photograph they have of “Ahmed” is actually one of Ahmed’s brothers. Persuaded by Maya that Ahmed may still be alive and an important link to bin Laden, Dan obtains $200,000 and travels to Kuwait City, Kuwait, where Ahmed’s mother lives. Dan buys a Lamborghini for an informant in order to get Ahmed’s mother’s phone number. Once the number is obtained, Maya monitors the mother’s calls and deduces that Ahmed is traveling frequently and using payphones to keep his whereabouts secret. On May 1, 2010, a terrorist attack is thwarted when a car bomb is found, undetonated, in New York City’s Times Square. Maya fights with Bradley for more backup on the search for Ahmed and Bradley tells her she needs to redirect her focus onto threats in the homeland and American terrorist cells. Arguing that his reputation could be ruined if he ignores this lead, Maya asks for safe houses in Rawalpindi and Peshawar, Pakistan, and four CIA ground operatives in each city. Once Bradley agrees to support the mission, Jack provides Maya with a cell phone that is linked to a newly purchased cell phone that may belong to Ahmed. Maya briefs a group of CIA operatives, including Bradley, suggesting that Ahmed is living near Rawalpindi and leaving his house in order to make calls. In Rawalpindi, ground operative Larry and his colleague, Hakim, follow Ahmed’s cell phone signal as the alleged terrorist makes calls from busy marketplaces around town. One day, Pakistani protestors gather around the embassy to protest against Bradley after a drone strike in Pakistan, and Bradley prepares to leave Islamabad. When Larry’s team takes a photograph of the man they believe to be Ahmed, Maya confirms the photograph and requests an even larger team. She considers Abbottabad, Pakistan, as a possibility for Ahmed’s residence, as al-Libbi stayed there briefly in 2003. Soon after, several men attempt to shoot Maya outside her home, but she is unscathed, thanks to the bulletproof glass in her car. In Abbottabad, CIA agents find Ahmed’s gated compound, heavily protected by thick walls and blacked-out windows. Fifty-two days later, the CIA watches the compound with aerial surveillance while Maya expresses her irritation that nothing has happened as yet. Steve, a CIA analyst, tells Maya that he spotted two males, three females and seven children outside the two houses in the compound and believes another family is living there. The CIA makes several attempts to get inside the compound undercover, but nothing works. One-hundred days after the compound’s discovery, the U. S. President wants to hear options for the invasion of the compound. At Area 51, a military base in Nevada, Maya and her colleagues examine stealth Black Hawk helicopters that have never been used. Maya announces to several operatives of DEVGRU, the U. S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, that bin Laden might be living in the house with Ahmed and that the Black Hawks will be used to invade the property. Maya tells the CIA director that she is one-hundred percent sure bin Laden lives in the compound, although others tend to believe the chance hovers around sixty percent. On May 11, 2011, at Forward Operating Base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Maya receives word that the invasion of the Abbottabad residence has been approved and will take place that night. The DEVGRU team flies to the compound in two Black Hawk helicopters, one of which crashes as it lands. In the dark of night, the DEVGRU team splits up into groups, using infrared goggles to navigate as they approach the two houses on the property. After Ahmed is shot and killed through the door to the guesthouse, his wife and children are ushered outside as the unit moves further inside. In the main house, DEVGRU operatives shoot another man and his wife on their way to find bin Laden. After they explode a barrier to the upstairs, they shoot another man and find two women hiding, as well as a room full of files and computers. In a room with two more women, a member of the DEVGRU team shoots a man that might be bin Laden and takes photographs of him. Clearing the women and children, the DEVGRU team ransacks the house, taking hard drives and files, as well as bin Laden’s corpse, to awaiting helicopters. As they fly away, the DEVGRU men blow up the downed Black Hawk. Back at the base, Maya examines the corpse and provides visual confirmation that it is bin Laden. Later, departing on a plane alone, she cries. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.